The Bajan Tridents Under-15 football team registered yet another victory on home soil as they diluted all flavours from St Kitts and Nevis sugar boys with a 3-0 triumph at the Wildey, St Michael AstroTurf Wednesday night.
Played under wet conditions, the Barbados flag of ultramarine, gold and black was being waved in the air as early as the second minute when Kyle Lewis shot the first goal of the game past St Kitts and Nevis goalkeeper Diondre Smith.
That 1-0 advantage remained for the hosts after the allotted 35 minutes of the opening half had concluded. The visitors apparently did not get enough time in the first half to get themselves acquainted with the turf as they failed to control a number of passes. Barbados, on the other hand, dominated possession by spreading the ball wide, attacking the flanks and ensuring the ball got inside the 18-yard box frequently, where several scoring opportunities were created but often were not converted.
A perfect example of that attacking style of play was in the 42nd minute when Rashon Gittens, wearing the captain’s armband for Barbados, skillfully dribbled St Kitts’ defence on the left flank, squared to Abiola Grant who had possession for a few seconds just inside the 18-yard box, lost his balance as he slipped backwards but somehow managed to push the ball away with his right boot towards striker Theirry Gale. Gale, a product of St Leonard’s Boys, then hammered a shot past keeper Smith who stood no chance of making the save.
Seeing that St Kitts and Nevis were not converting their chances and the young Tridents had a 2-0 lead, Barbados coach Renaldo Gilkes opted to substitute his top players in order to bring on a few fresh legs and Tajio James, a former Wilkie Cumberbatch star player in the National Sports Council’s BICO Primary Schools Football Competition, was among the choices made by Gilkes.
James wasted no time tantalising St Kitts’ defensive third to the excitement of the modest crowd present. The slick movements of the short lad were too much for St Kitts backline to handle as James went flying face first into the danger zone and right away referee Jamar Springer glanced across to his assistant Angelo Doyle on the sideline to ensure the call was a good one and then blew his whistle.
Andre Applewhaite took the penalty into the left corner post of the goal bars on the stroke of game-time in the third minute of added time.
Speaking after the game, Gilkes said out of the 12 matches played in preparation for the upcoming CONCACAF Youth 15 Championship from August 13 to 19 in Florida, the team only lost two games. However, he said they needed to work a lot more on their finishing.
Gilkes, a former national under-21 captain, noted that this particular group of youngsters was special and going forward they needed to improve on a few areas.
“We create the opportunities but we don’t convert as often as we should. This group is the start of something great for Barbados football. Right now we are the pioneers for the 2026 project where FIFA will be allowing over forty-eight teams in a new format for the World Cup and we believe that with this pool of players and with systematic and proper organization of programmes for these boys, 2026 could be a reality even if we don’t get to the World Cup, at least to the Gold Cup,” he said.
Where the general game and players were concerned, Gilkes explained: “The tactical awareness of the ball which is both offensively and defensively, those are the areas we need to brush up on. Psychologically I would like to have them do some sessions with a sports psychologist or a human development type person. What I can positively take away from this game is the camaraderie among the boys, the professionalism, and the level of patriotism, that nationalistic behaviour that they are currently displaying. These boys come from various clubs and communities but yet they have one goal in mind and that is to put Barbados on the football map.”