Saint Lucia
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Team 758 Makes Determined Bid for CONCACAF’s Gold Cup

HEAD Coach of the Saint Lucia National Senior Men Football Team Stern John is optimistic about the squad’s chances as they relish the opportunity of qualifying for a Gold Cup challenge.

National Head Coach Stern John
National Head Coach Stern John

Saint Lucia took on Martinique in an opening round match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, last night, after we went to press, at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Janoi Donacien of Ipswich Town is excited with the prospects of making an international debut for Saint Lucia. He is one of several international players of ‘Lucian’ roots who will represent the island in the tournament.

Prior to last night’s game, Janoi and his international teammates have been working hard at a training camp in Miami ahead of the fixture. He was born in Saint Lucia, but at eight years he moved to England with his family.

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“It’s been brilliant to be out here with the boys,” said the defender.

“To represent your country is obviously something any football player would be proud of, so to have that opportunity now is great for me and my family,” he added.  “We have a camp in Miami and a tough game at the weekend against a good side, but it will be a brilliant experience and hopefully we can progress.”

Speaking on his overall game play for the season, Janoi said, “We had a brilliant season with Ipswich and to win promotion with the boys was an incredible experience. It was good to have a break at the beginning of the summer but now I’m really excited to be looking forward to representing Saint Lucia.”

A win for Saint Lucia in this encounter will give them an opportunity for a second preliminary round game next week in order to secure one of the final three places in the Gold Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, head coach of the national squad Stern John had his say on the preparations and the unit’s readiness for the tournament.

Recalling Team 758’s unbeaten run at the Nation’s League Tournament, he said, the players performed “very well” and understood the importance of that challenge.

John noted the inclusion of several young players in the present squad. “There are some very talented players, some of whom came from the Saint Lucia National Under-20 team…but though they fell short of qualifying for the Youth World Cup, in Santo Domingo a few years ago these young players have been playing very well.

“I feel with the experience that we have here and bringing in some younger players to gel with the senior players, I feel we’ve been doing very well”.

On the level of preparations for this tournament, he added : “It’s been a good idea by the FA to allow us to come to Florida to have a camp…we were able to have the players in a camp environment where we can train twice a day and where we can look after them nutrition-wise.

“But we have a strong staff behind us, looking after the players and putting them through their paces and getting them ready.”

During a follow-up pre-match interview, the head coach commented on the team expectations. John noted: “I feel that everyone who plays for their national team, they would like to qualify for a Gold Cup. As the underdogs it’s good for us …we came through the Nation’s League qualifiers unbeaten and I feel it’s a great test for us.

“I know that Martinique has been here three times (before) and they are very experienced and a very good team too …we just have to believe in ourselves and continue playing the way that we have been playing. The team has been preparing properly …and I feel we have a great bunch of guys coming up together and we are trying to qualify for a Gold Cup.’

John declared: “This is probably the first time that we have come that close to qualifying for a Gold Cup and as a player you want to relish that opportunity to qualify for a Gold Cup.”