By Neto Baptiste
England-based head coach of the Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys and former national player, Mikele Leigertwood, is hoping that not being able to secure outside competition for the senior national team ahead of Thursday’s League B opener in the 2022/23 Concacaf Nations League against Barbados, will have “minimal” impact on their performance.
Antigua and Barbuda will travel to St Lucia for their 7:30pm League B, Group A opener against the Barbados senior national team having only played competitively against the national under-20 squad in preparation.
“Obviously, it would have been nice to play a different opposition but it is what it is. We’ll try and prepare as best as we can with the resources that we do have. The under-20s are a very good outfit and they’ve got a big tournament coming up and they’ve been training and prepping quite well so the game was competitive, it was tactical, it was technical which is exactly what we needed to prepare for the big upcoming game against Barbados,” he said.
Reports had indicated that the Benna Boys were due to face Anguilla in a friendly encounter over the weekend but that the match had been called off for reasons not made public by the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA).
Leigertwood also revealed that final selections regarding the touring party will be made this week, adding that his preference would be to have all players currently in training travel as part of the squad.
“It’s obviously clear we are going to be on the road for quite a long time and anything can happen so we will travel with as many as we can and again, we will make that final decision when it is time to travel. Right now, we have got a group of 24 or 25 training so if we travel with all of those players then I’ll be happy,” he said.
The ABFA, in March, had named a large 30-member preparatory squad for the competition.
According to the head coached however, seven England-based players will be selected as part of final team.
“I think it’s important that we have people playing football and having the domestic league not up and running is not idea but it is what it is. I think that the England-based players or the overseas-based players who have been involved have all been very good. They’re fit, they’re ready, they’re strong, they’re ready and they will complement the rest of the squad quite well so it is important that people are playing and I think that will help,” he said.
Following their clash against Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda will face Guadeloupe on June 5 at the Warner Park Football Stadium in St Kitts.