New-look Bajan team for Guyana football matches

(Barbados Nation) Barbados Defence Force Sports Programme’s Jason Lovell and Stephen “Shakes Man” Griffith are the two newcomers in the new-look Barbados senior football team selected last weekend for two friendly internationals against Guyana in Georgetown on Friday and Sunday.

But there are several others – like Kick Start’s Raheim Sargeant, Gall Hill’s Renaldo Marques, Curtis Odle, Jamal Chandler and Omari Eastmond, Brittons Hill’s Hendy Richards and Notre Dame’s Carl Joseph – who have had fleeting appearances for the national senior team in recent times and will be making the trip.

Lovell, a lanky six-footer who previously played for Carlton Pro Shottas, is a central defender. The former Lodge School stand-out wasn’t in the original 35-member squad of players invited to trials but has impressed in helping the army’s football recruits to top the Remy Martin Division 1 standings.

Griffith, who formerly represented Gall Hill and played Division 1 cricket for St Catherine as a wicketkeeper, is a defender but can also play as a holding midfielder.

Paradise goalkeeper Jason Boxhill has been recalled as well as Dames’ striker Maradona Lavine and Joseph, who can play either at left wing back or on the left side of midfield.

The surviving members from last year’s unsuccessful Digicel Caribbean Cup team are defenders Omar Archer, Barry Skeete, Jonathan Straker and Jomo Brathwaite, midfielder Jeffrey Williams and strikers Riviere Williams and Mario Harte.

Following the doubleheader in Guyana, the team, which is preparing for the CONCACAF qualifying rounds of the 2014 World Cup, will return home next week for the Bradley International Soccer Festival against St Vincent, Guyana and the highly-rated United States’ NCAA Division 1 School Bradley University at the National Stadium from May 23 to 30.

There is also the possibility of a game against Gold Cup qualifiers Grenada, who will visit Barbados next week to facilitate their visa needs for travel to the United States for the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Barbados Football Association secretary general David Hinds said yesterday that the local football fraternity was thrilled about the tour and exposure for the current senior national team.

“In the past, lack of quality overseas competition and friendly warm-up games have been a major issue for Barbados teams. This tour provides a great opportunity for such, as we prepare for World Cup qualifiers and other tournaments,” Hinds said.

Known as the “Braves”, Bradley University are enthusiastic about the upcoming games.

“We are incredibly excited about the upcoming trip to Barbados,” said Braves’ head coach Jim DeRose. “While it is certainly always fun for the players to travel abroad, this opportunity is very unique.

“Participating in a tournament that features full national teams that will actually have the chance to compete for a birth in a World Cup makes this incredibly special.”

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