Barbados are off to a realistic start in the CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, says coach of the senior national men’s team Russell Latapy.
Speaking during a post-game press conference held on Zoom this morning, Latapy said having played two matches – won one against Anguilla but lost the other to Panama, it was now back to the drawing board for the Bajan Tridents.
“We clearly need to work some more on our offensive play. Again, seeing that we had two to three weeks before this game obviously did help. We had to get the fitness levels up, we had to get our organization up which was the main focus. I think we were able to do that.
“I am delighted with the three points. I thought we played well in certain areas of the park. We just weren’t clinical as we would like to be, as we should be in the offensive third,” Latapy told local media.
The national side returned home yesterday having lost their opening match 1-0 to Panama but redeemed themselves against Anguilla 1-0. Their next Group D encounter will be against hosts Dominica Republic in June. In keeping with Covid-19 protocols the team is now in quarantine.
Against Anguilla, Barbados had a lot of possession. Going forward, Latapy said they will seek to concentrate on fine-tuning different aspects of the game, for instance, creating more goal-scoring opportunities. In order to do so, Latapy explained that part of the emphasis was to create more home-grown strikers.
“You always need quality. It is harder to create than it is to destroy. What I mean by that is it much easier to defend than it is to go past people and create chances. I think that there are a couple of factors that we have to look at in moving forward.
“Obviously, when we look at our Nations League performances and where we got our goals from, I would think that 50 percent of our goals in the Nations League came from Hallam Hope and Nick Blackman. I think when you lose these two players you automatically lose 50 per cent of your goals, so that is always difficult to replace. That is one aspect.
“The other aspect is we are trying to develop young strikers and home-grown strikers which is Niall Reid-Stephens and Keon Atkins. But we are asking two players to lead the line who don’t have the experience in international football. And really the only way they can gain that experience is if we play them,” Latapy said.
The national head coach also made the point that he prefers for his players to compete as underdogs where they have to fight and also defend, while at the same time playing with the football and creating opportunities.
Against Anguilla Barbados had six shots on goal but failed to hit the target most times and that was something Latapy acknowledged his coaching department needs to work on.
Outlining the positives however from the Panama and Anguilla match, Latapy mentioned that what pleased him most was the level of maturity shown by the players, considering that the players were all stuck together in a bubble, doing routines they were not accustomed doing.
“What pleased me the most was the maturity of the players. It was a very difficult 21 days that you are stuck in a bubble and it is easy to lose focus in a situation like that. I must say that everything we asked of the players in terms of their behaviour, their attitude, their spirit off the field that we can then bring on to the field, we achieved that,” Latapy explained.
The playing field in the Dominican Republic was wet and made it more suitable for an attacking style of football. Now that the Tridents have got a feel for the playing conditions, Latapy said they would have some discussions as it related to their strategies when they travel in June to take on the host.
“We need to be on the pitch, we need to work on a lot of different aspects of our game. I think it is a situation where we at the BFA are going to sit down, once we get out of quarantine and discuss these matters and figure out what is the best way moving forward.
“If it is a situation where we can get permission to train, that would be the best-case scenario for us, I think. If that is not the situation, we know that what we did (overseas training camp) for these two games that pass – Panama and Anguilla – it is a possibility. It is something we definitely would have to look into again and go back into somewhere and have a camp for two to three weeks before we compete,” he said.