‘Furthest From The Truth’: Gomes Denies Reports Under-20 Players Were Dissatisfied With Coach’s Methods, Attitude

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ABFA’s Technical Director, Sowerby Gomes. Coach George “Cajawawa” Warner
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By Neto Baptiste

The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association’s (ABFA) Technical Director, Sowerby Gomes, has denied reports of disquiet among members of the national under-20 men’s football team regarding the methods employed by head coach, George “Cajawawa” Warner.

Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Gomes said he personally had not received any reports or complaints from any player during their Group D campaign in Honduras last week, in which the young Benna Boys were beaten in all three of their matches, and finished at the bottom of the table.

“Nothing could be furthest from the truth. The players did have a meeting, as with all national teams, just to get themselves all psyched up for the game, but in terms of having a meeting to discuss displeasure in the coach or coaching staff, there was no such meeting. In fact, the players had a meeting in which I was present and expressed certain things they were looking for, but none of them ever expressed to me any displeasure in regards to the coaches or coaching style,” he said.

Reports had surfaced that players expressed dissatisfaction over Warner’s coaching methods and what were termed “abrasive” communication skills while they were in Honduras for the CONCACAF tournament.

In contrast, Gomes said he received positive reviews regarding the performance of the team and it’s coaching staff, despite the poor results.

“After our first games [against Honduras], the head scout for Chicago Fire, Andy Herron, approached me to have an audience with [me] and the coach. What he [expressed] was the method of play of the team and he lauded the efforts of the coaching staff and the way in which the coaches were pushing the players,” he said.

“He [said] … he saw a level of play where, in spite of the fact they were down, the fight that they saw, the togetherness in attack, the togetherness in defense, how they make lateral runs … the games could have changed either way had we put away those chances,” the former national and Villa defender added.  

Highlighting one of the few positives coming out of the team’s participation in the championships, Gomes pointed out midfielder Zahiem Green who finished with the highest number of passes in Group D and the third best overall following the group stages.

“We had one of our young players in the midfield — young Zahiem Green — who would have made 166 passes, and 160 completed out of 166. It speaks volumes because we had to be in a great deal of possession for him to make those complete passes, so we can see the development in stride. But all in all, we need to finish when we get our opportunities,” he said.

Antigua and Barbuda, despite being competitive in the first 45 minutes of the matches, lost all three matches in Group D and failed to score a single goal throughout. They were beaten 3-0 by both Honduras and Costa Rica before going under to Jamaica 2-0 in their final encounter.

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