Barbados Tridents’ nightmarish losing streak continued unchecked when the senior national men’s team were stunned 1-0 by Antigua and Barbuda Benna Boys with mere seconds to go in their opening match of the CONCACAF Nations League last night. Contested at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground in St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda defender Shavron Phillip got the final touch on a 90+1-minute winner against the Bajan lads in Group A of the League B encounter. Barbados have conceded more than 20 goals during chastening defeats in their last four to five games.
After countless failed opportunities to get the ball in the back of the nets last night, Tridents finally paid the price for their lack of finishing prowess. In fact, that last minute goal came as no surprise given that the Tridents – dressed in their traditional yellow uniforms – have conceded and lost in the past to other opponents in a similar fashion in the dying stage of games.
However, the history between the two Caribbean countries has always favoured Barbados with a record of five wins and a draw since they last met in 2008. However, the Antiguan Benna Boys rewrote the history books yesterday to beat the Russell Latapy-coached Barbados side for the very first time. While it was heartbreak for Tridents who played relatively well and created goal-scoring opportunities that just did not materialise, it was jubilation for Antigua.
A play which started on the right with much of the work done by Antigua’s midfielder substitute Ashley Nathaniel-George, continued with a lovely square ball to an unmarked Phillip to finish the job. Phillip made no mistakes as he slotted the ball into the top left of the goal, past the entire Barbados backline and national number one goalkeeper Kishmar Primus.
Returning from injury, Primus was superb and got unlucky during the extra time when that goal got past him and his defence team led by the lone overseas player Krystian Pearce along with today’s birthday boy Andre Applewhaite and Nicoli Brathwaite.
Goalkeeping coach Richard Bynoe would be pleased with Primus’ efforts including the first half when he parried a 30-yard strike from Antigua and Barbuda captain and dangerman, Quinton Griffith.
Tridents played a three, five and two formation with talented national forwards Tajio James and Keon Atkins running at the Antiguan defence. They were accompanied by the midfield led by captain Hadan Holligan, Omani Leacock, Mario Williams, Jomo Harris and Ackeel Applewhaite. With the number of opportunities created, particularly in the opening half, coach Latapy’s men should have been up 1-0 but after 45+ minutes of first-half action, no goals were registered from either side.
Among the highlights, Barbados’ best chance of scoring went abegging in the 18th minute when the dangerous Leacock produced a wonderful pass directed to Atkins inside the penalty area and the ball went just left of the goal.
Moments later Leacock was brought down inside the box by Denie Henry but the call for a penalty went unanswered.
Barbados’ confidence on the ball was good to see especially Leacock on the left flank. He was inspirational with his speed, physical strength and execution as Tridents looked good with their touch and go style of play.
James demonstrated his capabilities for Tridents in the 79th minute when he outpaced Antigua and Barbuda’s defence and struck a shot that was cleared away by goalkeeper Nick Townsend.
The two sides have never played each other in the Concacaf Nations League but competed in the Gold Cup qualifiers which were held in 2007. Despite the Trident’s commendable match record prior, Antigua and Barbuda boast of being the highest-ranked FIFA team at 128 in Group A of League B. Barbados at 163 is the only other team with a world ranking as Guadeloupe and Cuba remain without a ranking.
The winner of League B will advance into League A of the Concacaf Nations League where they will vie for a chance to compete at the Gold Cup where a champion is crowned every two years.
Barbados’ next stop is in Cuba where they will play the host at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, at the Estadio Pedro Marrero Stadium.
The last time they met Cuba won 2-0 in August of 2018.