Former national coach suggests all local squad best for pending World Cup qualifiers

Former national coach, Rowan Benjamin.
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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) should opt for an all local-based squad in preparation for upcoming CONCACAF 2022 World Cup Qualifiers slated for March next year.

This is the opinion of former national coach, Rowan Benjamin, who believes this could be the best possible option given what he said will be the country’s late start to preparations in January as suggested by the association’s head, Everton Gonsalves, earlier this week.

“I think that we’re too late. I believe that the way we may have to look at it is that they may have to go for a local coach and work with local players for now. If it is possible to get players out of England, then very good, but I know there is going to be some difficulty with that happening, but at the moment right now, a coach that is really worth his salt wouldn’t take up players who haven’t been playing football for months,” he said. 

There has been no competitive football in Antigua since March after the country recorded its first Covid-19 case.

Admitting that some players based outside of Antigua may be in better physical shape than those players based here, Benjamin said it could still prove difficult to source enough players to make a meaning impact.

“You might have to send for majority of them, maybe 12 or 14 of them, because remember you also have to try to send for players who are at a higher level because at the lower level [in England] they are not really playing much football. It’s just the championship and just below there they are playing,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda will contest Group A of the qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, Montserrat and the US Virgin Islands.

The Benna Boys will face Montserrat on 24th March 2001 before taking on the US Virgin Islands three days later. The Benna Boys will then round off their group campaign against Grenada on April 6.  

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