ABFA BUCKLES DOWN FOR WORLD CUP QUESTWednesday 7th March 2012
"The Antigua & Barbuda Football Association (ABFA) is working assiduously to set the stage for the national team’s FIFA World Cup campaign, ABFA President Everton“ said Batow Gonsalves.
Antigua & Barbuda will open their third round bid for Brazil against the USA. The game is scheduled for June 8 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The other teams in Group A are Guatemala and Jamaica.
The ABFA, after conferring with officials in CONCACAF who have make the trek before, projected that it would take a budget of $9 million to get through the next stage. This budget includes subsidies for Antigua Barracuda FC.
“Our discussion with government culminated just over two week ago at Cabinet. Funding has been approved for more than 65% of the budget. The government has committed to providing an enabling environment that will make it amenable for corporate Antigua & Barbuda to support the team, and we will also raise funds to come up with the remainder of the budget,” Gonsalves said.
He expressed gratitude to the members of Cabinet, saying, “they truly understand what we’re talking about here is Antigua & Barbuda and not just football. And they also sent the signal, from the highest decision-making body in the country, that this is no time for parochial interests. It’s time to rally behind the team and the country, because this has the potential to impact all of us positively.”
The Benna Boys regrouped on the field in an international friendly against Trinidad & Tobago on February 29 and a warm up match against St. Kitts and Nevis on March 3rd. Although the team suffered losses in both games, both the coaching and management staff appealed to the general public to remain calm and steadfast as the team fine tunes its plans ahead of the World Cup qualifying opener.
They will now return to camp, with the main focus being to prepare for the USA.
Between now and June 8, the Barracudas, which plays in the USL Pro League, will have eight games. Most of the national players are contracted to the professional team.
“And that’s why we keep saying unabashedly that Barracuda FC and the national team of Antigua & Barbuda are indivisible,” ABFA General Secretary Gordon “Banks” Derrick said.
“When we look at other teams in this round, Antigua & Barbuda is the upstart squad that defied the odds. Preparing to master the possibilities aside, the reality is we don’t have the name-brand recognition of Jamaica or the pockets of the USA. Nobody is tripping over the crowd to come sponsor us – not just yet; that will come. It means that right now, we have to cast our nets where we are, and that means recognizing the importance of the professional team to the overall programme and the importance of national support, ” Derrick added.
The ABFA noted that preparation for the players includes training camp and team and capacity building.
The launch for the next round of the World Cup campaign is scheduled for end March.
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