A match-winning goal by midfielder Hadan Holligan last night propelled Barbados into round three of the CONCACAF zone of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Technical director Marcos Falopa attributed the Emmerson Boyce-led Barbados victory to the national team’s commitment to training.
“As you can see our team is hard at work and the best team won today. We prepare morning and afternoon and the players work very hard,” Falopa said, while adding that Holligan was such a good player that he had what it took to play in Brazil.
Taking the field at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Barbados played hard and sought to counterattack whenever the opportunity presented itself and it was that kind of play that allowed Holligan to run on to the ball from at the top of the 18-yard box and finish superbly with a right-foot shot which beat the Aruban defence and in the process goalkeeper Eric Abdul in the 79th minute.
However Holligan’s goal sparked some debate after the game when it was alleged that he received two yellow cards in a previous game and should not have been allowed to play in last night’s encounter. But according to Barbados Football Association president Randy Harris, those suggestions were unfounded and according to FIFA’s website Holligan had collected just one yellow card.
Last night’s victory made it two consecutive victories for Barbados who won their first qualifying game 2-0 last Wednesday in Oranjestad against the Arubans in their own backyard thanks to striker Mario Harte and captain Emmerson Boyce.
The first half of the game was uneventful although Barbados had a few opportunities to break the 0-0 deadlock going into the break. However credit must be given to Aruba who controlled the ball for a majority of the game and thanks to good defending were able to stop Harte in particular on three or more occasions when he took a few thunderous shots at goal and was denied by keeper Abdul.
Even though disappointed that his team was unable to make it through to the next round, Aruba head coach Giovanni Franco give Harte an A grade and acknowledged that Barbados on counterattack play were very dangerous.
“The number nine [Mario Harte] is a very fantastic player, physically very strong so when you push up with the ball, you always have to keep in mind that he is standing there and that he can control the ball with three or four people.
“From the start we controlled the game but the counterattack from Barbados was very dangerous. They had opportunities and it is unfortunate that the game had to be decided by our own mistakes,” Giovanni said.