By Neto Baptiste
The Antigua and Barbuda Football Association (ABFA), as they continue preparations ahead of pending Group A action in the CONCACAF leg of the FIFA 2021 World Cup Qualifiers, has reduced its 46-member training squad to 26.
Experienced striker and former United Soccer League (USL) Pro player, Peter Byers, leads the selections. He is joined by Javorn Stevens, Rodney Lawrence, Carl Osbourne and Denny Henry who are the other strikers moving forward.
Midfielders Shavorn Philip, Eugine Kirwan, Keifer Lake, Gason Gregory, D’Jarie Sheppard, Juwan Roberts, Kenduka Challenger, Quinton Griffith and D’ Andre Bishop have also been included in the 26-man training team.
Veteran defender Karanja Mack leads the defensive unit and is joined by utility player Tamorley “Ziggy” Thomas in the back. Javez Lee, Jajuan Williams, Leroy Graham, Shakkimba Williams and Vashami Allen are the other defenders.
Rounding off the selections are goalkeepers Brent Parker, Jayden Martin, Molvin James and Prince Walters.
National teams’ manager and former national defender, Fernando Abraham, said the reduced squad will continue to train under the guidance of local coaches Schyan Jeffers, George Warner and Lenny Hewlette.
He added, however, that the sessions continue to be tailored by England-based coaches Tom Curtis and Mikele Leigertwood.
“At this moment we are having a situation where, with the quarantine — because for him to get here and to be quarantined for 14 days makes absolutely no sense — so we are working on something and I don’t know how best it will work out but we are working on something for him to be here as soon as he can,” he said.
Abraham said that efforts are being made to have both Curtis and Leigertwood fly into the country ahead of the team’s first match.
“The gentleman in question, Tom Curtis, and also Mikele Leigertwood are two persons who know exactly what they are doing and the three guys who are here [Schyan Jeffers, George Warner and Lenny Hewlette], they know what they are doing, too, and what is expected of them and once the communication comes in from the coaches and they look at it and see exactly what needs to be done then they set aside and do that,” he said.
Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys will contest Group A of the CONCACAF qualifiers alongside El Salvador, Grenada, the US Virgin Islands and Montserrat.
The Benna Boys are scheduled to face Montserrat on March 24th 2021 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.