Romario Harewood’s match-winning goal has ensured that Barbados got their Caribbean Football Union’s Caribbean Cup campaign off to a great start against Curacao.
Footballl fans turned out in their numbers to see the hosts defeat Curacao 1-0 last night at the Usain Bolt Sports Complex, Paradise Park, St Michael. What made the victory even more special was that coach Colin Harewood was matching strategies against former top Netherlands and Barcelona player and now coach of Curacao, Patrick Kluivert
It was an uneventful first half even though midfielder Harewood, striker Mario Harte and company had a few chances that went a begging. Curacao held the majority of ball possession and had Barbadian defenders Ricardo Morris and Ranaldo Bailey especially busy.
When the second half commenced Barbados went on the attack from early and Harewood found a break inside the 18-yard box when he dribbled past a Curacao defender whom he left for dead, aimed towards the goal bars but was brilliantly denied by custodian Elroy Room with a superb save.
Barbados were then rewarded with a corner taken from the left by Rashad Jules who found Harewood at the back of the far post and as expected the Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme captain controlled it well with his upper body and placed it past goalkeeper Room in the 69th minute.
On a night that saw the Barbadians absorb tremendous pressure, former New York Cosmos goalkeeper Keasel Broome, English professional Emmerson Boyce, Louis Moss, along with Morris and Bailey, played influential roles in shutting out the opposition.
Broome kept Barbados in the match on three critical occasions, as he came off his line to deny the Curacao strikers after his defence was compromised.
On one occasion, Curacao midfielder Dustley Mulder was yellow-carded for diving in the second half after he was clinically dispossesed in a one-on-one encounter with the Barbados keeper.
Speaking with the media after the game Harewood said the encounter was dedicated to the memory of former top football coach Randolph Cox and added he was extremely happy with the outcome because his side followed the game plan and executed well against a skillful Curacao team.
“I think the motivation came when we lost one of our own in Randolph Cox and we just drove into the players that this game was dedicated to Cox and the way Cox coached is just the way we played. He coached with a lot of passion, he liked to win and we just said we going to go out there and play for Cox, play for Barbados and ourselves,” Harewood said.
He noted this was the first time as coach he personally had put so much groundwork into a game. He described that as more of a structured plan than anything else.
“We knew that they play off the ball, we knew they like to pass the ball, so we had to drop numbers behind the ball at all times. They like to carry the ball in one area and switch it long. We knew exactly how Curacao would have come and play us and we stuck to our plan. We always said that we are going to defend and get at least one or two opportunities to score and once we scored we are going to defend well,” said the elated coach about Barbados’ first international outing for the year.
One of the areas of concern, however, was unity which he said they intended to work on as the competition progressed. He also added there would be changes to the team as the championship went on.
“This is our first game in how long and I think the cohesion is not there as yet. But as I said this game we sat down and planned for it and we played according to our plan and we didn’t use certain players because the game was structured in such a way that players you see we put out there are players that were supposed to play this game and as the tournament goes along you will see changes in terms of our selection. We had to drop out two players today and that was specifically because of this game. We sit down we watched Curacao and see the players we had to put out there. So it wasn’t that we just win the game, we put in a lot of hard work and it was a lot of planning,” Harewood explained.
Looking ahead to their encounter against the Dominican Republic, Harewood, who is of the view that Curacao is a better side technically than the Dominicans, said they had not done any homework on the Dominican Republican but knew the system of playing football in that country. He added that insight would be used to their advantage when they travelled to that country for their March 29 encounter.
He said the only injury worry following the game was a groin complaint from Jules.
Captain Boyce was a happy man and thanked the public for their support in what he described was a tough game.
Meanwhile Kluivert said he was disappointed with his team’s performance and thought Barbados played well.
“I am quite disappointed. We analyzed the Barbadian team and they were defensive and we knew that. When they had ball possession they played long balls and we had a lot of balls lost in the midfield. They [defenders] easily gave the ball away and one thing you learn is ‘don’t give the ball away’ and that is what we did,” Kluivert said.
Barbados, Curacao and Dominican Republic are all contesting Group 4 of the tournament and Curacao will next oppose the Dominican Repiblic on Saturday in Curacao. Twenty teams from the region are competing in seven groups in first round qualifiers of the 2016 Caribbean Cup.