Manager of the senior national football team, Fernando “Nando” Abraham, said Tuesday that Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) has identified at least six new overseas-based players who are eligible to represent the nation in the ongoing 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Abraham, a former national and Five Islands defender, confirmed also that the FA is actively seeking to convince the identified players to join the Benna Boys for their upcoming away and home legs against Guatemala slated for September 7 and 11, respectively.
Identified is defender Zaine Francis-Angol who plays for Motherwell FC in Scotland, striker James Walker from Eastbourne Bourough in England, midfielder Myles Weston of Gillingham FC in England, goalkeeper Brenton Mohammed, striker Moses Azubuike and defender Lee Peltier who currently plays for Leeds United in England.
According to Abraham, acquiring the quality players is essential if Antigua & Barbuda expects to advance to Brazil in 2014.
“If we need to go further in the competition we need to have very positive results against Guatemala. We are looking to have the best possible team available to us and when you put in the additional five persons on show it would mean that we now have approximately 10 persons available to us if all of them are committed to it and that would still be less than 50 per cent of the team because at the moment, we have a squad of about 24 if we were to include them,” he said.
The additional players, should they confirm their availability for the upcoming legs, will complement the already existing England-based players, which are now down to five following the unavailability of midfielder Justin Cochrane who has taken up coaching on a more permanent basis and defender Marvin McCoy who is out with a broken leg.
The Benna Boys are slated to leave for Guatemala at the end of the month where they will be met by the available overseas-based players for a short camp ahead of their fixture.
“The team is always in preparation because the whole objective of the Barracuda team is to make sure that we have a solid foundation for the national team where these guys are constantly playing in a competitive environment week in and week out so that they can stay sharp and be match ready for these matches coming up,” he said.
“Our camp starts on September 2. We will go to Guatemala and will be in Guatemala for some five to six days before the actual game. Everybody will meet there on September 2 and the training will start there with preparations for the first and second games,” Abraham added.
Antigua & Barbuda have lost one and drawn one of their two fixtures to date after having suffered a 3-1 defeat at the hands of USA in their opening match in Florida while playing to a goalless draw against Jamaica here in Antigua.
The Benna Boys will play away to Guatemala on September 7 before returning for the home fixture slated for September 11.