The “Bajan Tridents” are not facing an ideal situation heading into their first leg of CONCACAF Qualifiers, but head coach Russell Latapy remains hopeful they will be on par with the other teams competing later this month.
Latapy was speaking to the media via a Zoom press conference, before the Randy Harris-led delegation embarked on its journey, by charter, to the Dominican Republic. The Bajan Tridents will face Panama on March 25 and Anguilla on March 30.
Latapy said it had been difficult with current regulations for them to go out as a group to do any training. However, he indicated players were given a takeaway training programme during the first lockdown last year to maintain fitness, during the period they were inactive as a unit, which carried into this second period of lockdown.
He noted at Cap Cana, an all-inclusive facility recommended by the Dominican Republic Federation, there was a possibility of having practice matches with other teams who will be competing.
“I know there is a possibility speaking with some of the other coaches that we can get a game, but I don’t know if we will be ready to play when the other teams are ready. There is no point in us going to try to play a training game in particular if we’re not where we should be in terms of our preparation.
“I think our first seven or eight days there is going to determine a lot in terms of our physical fitness, in terms of how we gel, the information we give out and that they (the players) take on board. Once we determine where we are, then we can see if we are ready for this game or not,” he assessed.
Unfortunately, with the global pandemic, not all of the six overseas players invited will be released, and Hungary-based Budapest Honaved FC Thierry Gale and centre forward for League One Club Swindon Town, Hallam Hope will not feature as part of the squad.
“We have a few players who are committed, as all of them, and who want to come. We also have another two or three players who are not going to be released. It is difficult for Thierry to get out of Hungary and Hallam in his particular situation, where his team is and the minutes he is getting. We’re not going to force the players to represent us. We’re not going to put the players in a situation where it interferes with their livelihood,” Latapy explained.
Regarding the locally-based players, Latapy said the names would be released pending Covid-19 tests. Latapy added no local player had opted out and those who had concerns were able to have them cleared up ahead of the trip today.
“We had some concerns with some players, some with young families, and they have to take into consideration their safety. I think they were given the assurance from the medical staff there isn’t an issue with us travelling,” the coach said.