By Rae Roberts
Grenada’s prospects of reaching the second round competition in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying tournament CONCACAF Region are extremely doubtful. Defeated by El Salvador in San Salvador in their opening fixture in the five-nation round-robin Group “A” means that Grenada must now depend on other teams to help their cause, namely Antigua and Barbuda and US Virgin Islands, which must beat their Central American opponents. And that’s asking for a miracle!
At the end of two rounds of matches involving the five countries the standings in Group “A”: Antigua & Barbuda played 2; Win one. Draw one. Lost zero. Goal For 5: Goal Against 2; Goal Difference 3; Points 4: El Salvador:: Played 2: win one; draw one; Lost none: Goal difference 3: Goal Against 1: Points 4: Grenada: played 2: win one: lost one: goal difference one: goal against 2; goal difference one: points 3: Monserrat played 2: draw 2 goals for 3: goal against 3: goal difference zero: Points 2: US Virgin Islands played 2, lost 2 goals for zero; goal against 4 Goal difference 4: points zero.
Monserrat, whose team squad includes several overseas-based professionals, took a point from El Salvador in what was a competitive fixture. It ended in a one-all draw. The final round of qualifying matches will be played in June. The fixtures feature El Salvador against the top of the table Antigua and Barbuda followed by the US Virgin Islands. Possibly, Antigua and Barbuda, which drew their opening game against Monserrat, have the best chance of beating El Salvador, and if they achieve that; hence, it provides an opportunity for Grenada
The Spice Boys must then score overwhelming victories against Monserrat and Antigua and Barbuda in their final two matches, to have any realistic chance of being in the second stage of the World Cup Qualifying Tournament. None of these games will be a pushover. Surely, Grenada will need all its best overseas-based players to battle their remaining opponents and secure maximum points.
However, if El Salvador triumphs against the Antiguans and US Virgin Islands it will win the group “A” and contest the second phase of the competition to qualify for Qatar. Reflecting on Grenada versus El Salvador, it was a tough away encounter for the Spice boys. The COVID 19 Pandemic restrictions prevented our English base players from coming home and train with the locals. They arrived in El Salvador four days before the match and were subjected to immigration challenges before being allowed to join the other members of the team.
El Salvador was the superior team in the 90-minute-match. Playing in a familiar environment their footballers were upbeat, tremendously athletic, created spaces to attack and often accurately passed the ball to teammates’ for goal-scoring opportunities
Nevertheless, Grenada was not outplayed. In both halves, the Spice boys’ did create goal-scoring chances, and generally, there was good energy and determination from all the players.
The second Grenada match against US Virgin Islands at the National Stadium earned them a one-nil victory at the National Stadium in Queen’s Park. A disappointing performance by the Spice Boys, but Credit to the Virgin Island players who never said die.
Coach Mike Finley, who took up his appointment as Grenada’s national coach six weeks before the opening match did not have enough time to prepare a team for a competition of that magnitude. The COVID 19 Pandemic restrictions also complicated matters. One would hope that come June when the final two matches are scheduled we will see a better performance.