Barbados fought until the final whistle but lost their fourth and final match of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football Nations League 1-0 to Nicaragua last night at the Wildey St. Michael AstroTurf.
The senior Tridents wrapped up their Nations League campaign quest for a Gold Cup slot with a sole win against United States Virgin Islands, and three losses against Guyana, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
Playing in their traditional yellow and blue uniforms, Barbados were strong defensively but just were unable to deliver offensively during the 90+4 minutes of play. Wearing white the visiting Central Americans came out victorious through captain and midfielder Juan Barrera’s goal in the 65th minute.
Substitute Carlos Chavarria who came on in place of Marlon Lopez produced a cross inside the area that found Barrera [17 goals from 49 matches] who delivered a delightful game-winning shot. There was no defensive magic national number one goalkeeper Keasel Brooome Jr. or sweeper Kaeson Trench could have invented to prevent that goal from scoring.
Following the goal, a penalty should have been awarded to Barbados when captain Rashad Jules’ well flighted free kick was handled inside the area, but no call was made by Grenadian-born centre referee Reon Radix.
Barbados team management made substitutions that reflected a stronger offensive unit during the latter stages of the game when 17-year-old Niall Reid- Stephen, Shakille Belle and Armando Lashley, all came on in the second half.
Those three replaced strikers Mario Harte, Shaquille Stewart along with defender Ranaldo Bailey who is based overseas. Belle, Lashley, Reid-Stephen joined midfielders Hadan Holligan, Mario Williams and captain Rashad Jules in the fight to secure the equalizer.
Opportunities were created. Barbados won themselves several set pieces which were taken the majority of the time by 19-year-old Ackeel Applewhaite with some massive throws. Applewhaite stationed at left-back offered great support to Ricardo Morris at right-back in covering young Trench, but Barbados just were unable to deliver offensively.
Technical director Ahmed Mohammed in his final game as Barbados’ head coach before Trinidadian Russell Latapy takes over credited the team for showing character against a side who are all professional players. Yesterday’s victory means that Nicaragua has earned a spot to compete in the upcoming 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
“We were the better team; my boys showed character, my boys showed willingness because they wanted to play very good in this game. The second half one second that we slipped that is what punished us,” Mohammed said.
Admitting that Barbados lost their touch in the second half compared to their first 45th where they controlled the long balls and skilfully matched the Nicaraguans offensively, Mohammed justified his reasons for replacing talented senior striker Mario Harte with 17-year-old Niall Reid- Stephens
“It was a tactical move, Mario had cramp. The little mistake that we have done was that we had too many offensive men on the field and it didn’t work out the way we wanted, and on the right side we give them a little bit more space,” he said.
Coach of the Nicaraguan team, Henry Duarte, through translator Alberto Moke, said that he knew Barbados would have been a challenge but commended his unit for the way they performed.
“Previously he mentioned that Barbados is going to be a difficult opponent and that the match would be tough for them. Today during the match, we had all the spaces reduced, they [Barbados] like to touch the ball a lot and they didn’t have the space available in the first half. I have to say this is one of the most intense matches we have played out of the four,” he said.