By Neto Baptiste
A total of five overseas-based players have been confirmed ahead of the Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys’ CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier against Grenada slated for Friday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground.
Heading the list is England-based midfielder and former captain, Joshua Parker, who currently plays for Burton Albion FC.
The other players are England-based defender Daniel Bowry (Wealdstone FC), Scotland-based defender Aaron Sinclair (Livingston FC) and England-based midfielder TJ Bramble (Dover Athletic FC). The FA is also awaiting the arrival of England-based midfielder, Rhys Browne of Sutton United FC.
One member of the coaching staff, Schyan Jeffers, noted the significant reduction in the number of overseas-based players, adding that this is partly due to significant improvement in the level of play being exhibited by the local players.
“John Parker has been here for a while and a couple of the other guys have been here for a while, so I think they meet the quarantine [requirement] and I know Leigertwood had a couple of them in training as well and also playing some friendly games as well, so you get a good chance to look at them,” he said.
“The guys are fully focused and for me, they have improved tremendously over the last couple of months. They have a lot of patience over the ball, they are starting to understand the awareness of transition and when it’s time to defend and the different moments of the game, and they are actually competing now, and this gives us a chance to use them more. We are in a good space right now and we should use them a lot more because they can help the country a lot more this time around,” he added.
The Benna Boys have four points from their two matches, having beaten US Virgin Islands 3-0 on March 27. They drew 2-2 against Montserrat on March 24. El Salvador, meanwhile, trail on goal difference following their 1-1 draw with Montserrat on March 28 after previously defeating Grenada 2-0 on March 25.
Jeffers said players have been responding well to the preparations going into the clash.
“The only pressure they are under is for them to be in the starting 11, but other than that, the guys are happy, they are comfortable, they just want to play football and they want to take Antigua to the next level,” he said.
Friday’s match is slated for a 4:00 p.m. kickoff.
Following their clash against Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda will travel to El Salvador where they face the home team.