St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Vincy Heat must come stronger than ever, if they are to advance to the next round of the CONCACAF zone of the World Cup qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 finals.
This, after last Wednesday’s draw for the first round of matches. The draw saw the Vincentians placed in Group C, and matched against three of the better outfits in the confederation: Curacao, Guatemala and Cuba. The group is completed by the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
On paper, football pedigree, history, population, among others, St Vincent and the Grenadines lies just above the British Virgin Islands.
The latter of late though, must not be seen as a push over either, as they have sought to get reinforcement from persons who are eligible to represent the British dependency.
Added, the fixtures do not suit us, as St Vincent and the Grenadines have to play their two away matches versus the much fancied and formidable Curacao and Guatemala, which are currently ranked 80 and 130, respectively.
At home, St Vincent and the Grenadines, ranked 167, will host Cuba (179) and the British Virgin Islands, almost at the foot of FIFA rankings, at 208.
But to put the draw and fixtures into proper context, St Vincent and the Grenadines have a tough ask and must pull out all of the stops if they are to advance to the second phase of the qualifiers.
This is not to say that we stand absolutely no chance to get past any of the teams, granted the state of our football.
No one knows what are behind the blinds, as the team can get it right, spring some surprises and be better a team on the four days of the matches.
At this juncture, it is not casting all doom on the coaching staff and the players, but there are some key areas which must be considered in facing up to the realities of the sport, and what is required to assure success in this type of football competition.
Is there enough time for the technical personnel to put the structures in place and fashion a system that can thwart the style of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ opponents?
This is against the fact, that the National Club Championships are ongoing and players are more focussed on their respective clubs’ position, rather than national duties.
Therefore, are our players physically and mentally prepared for such an ask, as it will be the first for them to engage teams of that quality in a short space of time?
Or do we have sufficient players who are eligible to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines, but reside in various parts of the world, and can readily adapt and at least give us a good showing?
This column unfortunately, should not be asking these questions in 2020; neither should lovers and ardent supporters of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ football be hopeful rather than certain whenever this country is in a major competition.
Since we whetted our feet in World Cup qualifiers in 1992, we would have acknowledged that it takes more preparation and planning to match the other nations.
However, successive national football administrations have failed to put the systems in place so that St Vincent and the Grenadines can be a force to reckon with when it comes to the CONCACAF region.
They have not come to grips with the truism that success is not cheap. Forward planning and constructing a pathway for our football have evaded us, hence we are constantly playing catch up.
Hopefullly, the sitting executive can be the agent of change; make good of their tenure by putting football first, rather than the positions to wield power of vengeance against others.
Football is more than any of us, and if those who profess dearly that they love the sport, they should ensure that it is the cornerstone of hope the young people of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
We as a nation can no longer see football and sports in general, for that matter, as a past time, as sports sells a country, engenders pride and national identity.