Gomes labels Concacaf prelims experience a learning curve

Steven Solvet (18) directs a corner kick into the back of the net with a towering header for Guadeloupe (www.concacaf.com)
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By Neto Baptiste

Antigua and Barbuda’s hurried preparations for the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims was a “learning curve”, at least for technical director Sowerby Gomes who said the experience taught him a few valuable lessons.

Gomes said that one of the biggest hurdles was identifying players with all the necessary documentation required for travel at such short notice.

“Even as far as passports, we have to ensure that every player who gets selected for national team duties has a passport. More so, we have to ensure they have an American visa because there are lots of opportunities lost when there is a request for the team to travel, so for national players to not only have an up-to-date passport, but to also have an up-to-date visa is important, so that when opportunities come we are not caught with our pants down,” he said. 

The Benna Boys were beaten 5-0 by Guadeloupe last Friday after being elevated to the preliminary stage of the competition following a successful challenge by Trinidad and Tobago against Nicaragua’s use of an ineligible player.

Nicaragua was replaced in the 2023 Gold Cup Group Stage by the Trinidad and Tobago team by virtue of them being the highest second-place team overall from League B groups in the 2022/23 tournament, while the place in the Gold Cup Preliminary Round previously occupied by Trinidad and Tobago went to the Benna Boys.

Gomes said the team entered the must-win clash at a major disadvantage given the team was not in preparation at the time.

“We have to make sure we learn of competitions ahead of time so that our national players find themselves in tip-top condition, and even if they take a week or two off that they are not far from where they are supposed to be, because you never know that if within the next two-week span if you might be called upon so the discipline starts from toddlers come right up, so they understand what training is all about, so preparation becomes second nature,” the TD said.

The Benna Boys needed to beat Guadeloupe in order to qualify for a second preliminary round encounter.

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