By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
A Men’s national Football squad will become the Territory’s first home based international representatives in any sport since the Covid-19 pandemic began, when they face Guatemala on Saturday and St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday, in the CONCACAF qualifying rounds of the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022.
The Territory’s 67th and 68th matches since 2000, originally scheduled for the A. O. Shirley Grounds, were rescheduled to Curacao, because of the Covid-19 protocols and quarantine Guatemala would have to face. Home based players departed the territory last Thursday and were joined by nine overseas players to complete the squad.
Assistant Coach Clinton “Tinny” Percival, told Island Sun Sports that based on the Covid situation, they have done fairly well in preparing since January with two weekly training sessions. He said physically, the players are in good shape and they were spending the time leading up to Saturday in camp fine tuning, getting home based players to gel with overseas players, as they have been separated for a while. The focus was on finalizing the unit and finalizing the tactical and technical aspects of the game. The players he noted are in good spirits and looking forward to the games.
“Guatemala is a very good team first and foremost, they are very tactical, but at the end of the day, everybody has strengths and everybody has weaknesses,” he noted. “Our thing is to watch as much as possible what they do best and what they do not so good and try to capitalize on what we see we can capitalize on.”
Percival said while St. Vincent has more experience than the BVI’s young squad, when they go into the square, it’s 11 vs 11 and they’re asking players to concentrate on their performances.
“As long as their performances are positive and good, we think we have an opportunity of actually doing our best,” he said, noting they’re a young team going through a process. “We’re just hoping they continue to build and get stronger each time we play. The hopes are high and at the end of the day, this is a learning process for us. We are making sure the experience that they gain, will be put to good use going forward.”
The BVI, currently ranked 208 of 211 FIFA teams, has never won a FIFA World Cup qualifying match since they began participating in the qualifications in 2000. Their best showing was in the 2010 qualifier, when they drew with the Bahamas 3-3 on aggregate, where both games were played. They lost the away leg 2-1 and drew the home leg 2-2.
Percival said they’re playing some very good teams and it’s about making sure they have a very positive attitude and that positive attitude can only transcend into positive results.
“Yes, we’re looking for positive results and that positive result can only come playing as a unit,” he noted. “And whatever we do, we can increase on, as we go on game after game because it’s a process. It’s a young team, and I do believe years to come, we’re going to have a very positive and upcoming team. We’re hoping that these guys can turn out to be the role models for the younger players that are coming. We’re not trying to put pressure on them about winning right now, it’s about progressing and trying to improve on their skills and having the experience to play against teams at this level on a constant basis.”
Percival added: “The foundation we’re trying to build now, is what’s needed to be done right, continue to be done right, for the standard that they set now, will be the foundation for the youths coming.”
BVI 66 match record since 2000 World Cup qualifier
Over the last three years, the team has been on the verge of victory late in games, but have been unable to finish. In their last 28 games since 2008, the BVI has posted a 2-25-1 mark. They beat Anguilla 2-1 in a 2010 friendly, for their first victory since beating Bermuda, 2-0 in 2004. They posted their last victory during a 2018 friendly with St. Maarten, whom they beat 3-2. Their worst defeat over the stretch has been a 17-0 demolition at the hands of the Dominican Republic in 2010 and Montserrat ended a 17-year losing streak by shutting down the BVI, 7-0, in 2012.
The BVI has been outscored 129-14 in their 28 matches and have been unable to penetrate their opponent’s defense for a score, in 19 of those 28 games. Overall, the BVI has played in 66 matches since 2000 and posted 11 wins, 44 losses and 11 draws including friendlies. Minus friendlies, they’re 2-32-7.
With 10 U20 players on this squad however, they have been assembled with hopes of changing the territory’s future fortunes.
The BVI will face St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday, in their first matchup since 2014 when they lost 6-0.
Jahmal Prentice, Phillip Jules, Daniel Gilford, William Butler, Kristian Javier, Giovanni Grant, Miguel Marshall, Jerry Wiltshire, T’Sharne Gallimore, Jamie Wilson, Joshua Bertie, Carlos Septus, Robbie Green, Tyler Forbes, Justin Smith, Luka Chalwell, Luca Reich, Liam Blok, Kevin Fisher-Daniel, Ikyjah Williams and Charles Medway. Officials. Head Coach: Dan Neville. Coaches: Clinton “Thinny” Percival and John Reilly. Fitness Coach: Javon Carty. Goalkeeping Coach: Morris Mark. Coach: Richie Morton. Manager: Wendel Nichols. Physio: Sheldon Harry.