BVI concedes first game of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers to Guatemala 3-0

BVI Squad lost 3-0 to Guatemala in their first game of the CONCACAF Qualifiers World Cup Qatar 2022 played in Curacao on Saturday, March 27, 2021 Photo: BVIFA

Coming into the game against a team ranked 130 in the world by FIFA, home fans may have feared the worst, but right from the kickoff, the BVI withstood all that Los Chapinos could throw at them and even came close to scoring, when in the 13th minute, Jamie Wilson was denied by the quick reactions of Guatemala keeper, Ricardo Antonio Jerez Figuero.

Going ahead at that point would have sent shock waves through the visiting coaches, but as it was, the team under fire from their fans for under performing in recent games, calmed some nerves when they opened the scoring in the 21st minute, through their talisman Darwin Gregorio Moscosco Lom.

Phillip Graham in the BVI goal could do little to stop the effort by Lom, but from that moment on he pulled off four of five saves to keep the game alive. However, on the stroke off half time and again after chances to equalize through quick breaking football, Guatemala delivered a heart-breaking second goal through Moises Edwardo Hernandez Morales.

The second half saw gradual domination from the professional players of Guatemala, but strong, solid performances by midfield general, Carlos Septus, Jerry Wiltshire in defence, Captain Kristian Javier, Robbie Green out wide and the ever-dangerous Tyler Forbes kept Guatemala at bay until the all important third goal came in the 88th minute from Robin Bethancourth.

“It’s bittersweet to be honest,” commented coach Dan Neville. “I was delighted with the effort, enthusiasm and fearlessness of the players, but disappointed with the way we conceded and disappointed we didn’t convert any of chances at the other end. However, to be stood here and discussing the result rather than the performance against a team like Guatemala, who played really well, is a great benchmark for us.”

The team was set up to hit Guatemala on the break and to have created several chances is testament to the effectiveness of the team tactic and set up.

“We have to manage moments like those and make sure we convert those chances,” concluded Neville. “The result in truth was massive for us, the score line should have been closer and despite still being a work in progress there is so much to look forward to after performances like tonight.”

BVIFA President, Mr. Andy Bickerton made the trip to support the team and was enthused and excited by what he saw despite being disappointed in the result. “I guess if we had been asked before the game if a 3-0 defeat would have been acceptable, we might have said yes, but to play a team of Guatemala’s status high up in FIFA rankings complete with a full team of professional footballers, we played outstandingly. We had strong performances throughout the team and could have taken the lead early on before they scored. Ultimately we lost but can be immensely proud of the commitment and effort shown by the players.”

Bickerton was also incredibly pleased with the youngsters on show. “The youngsters coming on and making a contribution were great and we are definitely progressing along the player development path we set out 3 years ago.”

Once of those youngsters, Luka Chalwell, had already made a debut in England’s FA Youth Cup with his Poole Town teammates and was far from overawed by his World Cup debut. “I was so eager to come on, watching how fast and technical they looked just made me want to be out there. It was surreal though when I saw the 4th Official hold my number up to sub on and join my teammates, some of whom I had played with since a little boy and now we were all on the same field in Men’s football made me so proud. I was excited to get on and to have family watching both here in Curacao and back home was crazy! Their players like to talk a lot, but I didn’t let them get into my head, played aggressive and showed my skills.”

The BVI will remain in Curacao and play St Vincent and the Grenadines on Tuesday 30th March at 6pm.

BVIFA announces CONCACAF squad

BVIFA President, Mr. Andy Bickerton and Interim Head Coach Mr. Dan Neville

Interim Head Coach of the BVI for the CONCACAF 1st Round Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, Qatar 2022, Mr. Dan Neville has announced a squad of twenty-one players for the two games to be played in Curacao later this month.

“The upcoming World Cup qualifiers are another great learning opportunity for the squad and part of our strategic plan to create opportunities for our top performing young players,” stated Neville. “We go into both games fully committed to being as competitive as we possibly can, we cannot guarantee results, but we can guarantee we will be organized, show immense national pride, put sweat on the shirt and have “a never say die” spirit!”

Squad: Phillip Jules, Daniel Gilford, William Butler, Kristian Javier, Giovanni Grant, Miguel Marshall, Jerry Wiltshire, T’Sharne Gallimore, Jamie Wilson, Joshua Bertie, Carlos Septus, Robbie Green, Tyler Forbes, Justin Smith, Luka Chalwell, Luca Reich, Liam Blok, Kevin Fisher-Daniel, Ikyjah Williams, T’Khoi Richardson and Charles Medway

Head Coach: Dan Neville

Asst Coaches: Clinton Percival and John Reilly

Fitness Coach: Javon Carty

Goalkeeping Coach: Morris Mark

Coach: Richie Morton

Manager: Wendel Nichols

Physio: Sheldon Harry

With Guatemala being 78 places ahead of the BVI in the FIFA rankings and St. Vincent 40 places ahead, the task is difficult but there is genuine belief amongst the squad that they can cause an upset.

“It is well known that we were looking forward to playing Guatemala at home,” commented Mr. Andy Bickerton. “However, the worldwide pandemic had different ideas and now we will travel to Curacao to face two tough opponents, but we have invested heavily in our youth program for the best part of a decade and although we may be one of FIFA’s smallest member associations, we are probably one of the most ambitious.”

The average age of the squad for the first two games is just 20 and making a senior squad for the first time are Richardson, Chalwell, Reich, Williams and Smith – all of whom started in the BVIFA’s School Leagues.

Both matches are scheduled to kick off at 8pm and the BVIFA will announce full details on how to watch the games, and how to support the team by purchasing a match day program and match ticket in the next few days.

Saturday 27th March v Guatemala

Tuesday 30th March v St Vincent and the Grenadines

The venue is the Stadion Emilio Hato in Willemstad, Curacao.

World Cup Qualifiers’ delay beneficial to VI national team

BVIFA President Andy Bickerton believes the decision taken jointly by CONCACAF and FIFA to delay the World Cup Qualifiers will prove to be beneficial to the Virgin Islands’ national team.

According to BVI Football Association President, Mr. Andy Bickerton, the decision taken jointly by CONCACAF and FIFA to delay the World Cup Qualifiers will prove to be beneficial to the Virgin Islands’ national team.

CONCACAF and FIFA agreed that the CONCACAF Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 will not be played in the match windows of October or November 2020, and will instead begin with the first round in the FIFA match window of March 2021.

“From the BVIFA’s perspective the delay in the World Cup Qualifiers until March 2021 makes a lot of sense,” commented Bickerton. “Hopefully by that time spectators will be able to attend the home matches and we will be able to bring all of our players together for preparation without facing the COVID-19 quarantine regulations. Travel will have become more relaxed allowing the BVI to benefit from the economic effects of the Sports Tourism opportunity provided by the visit of the fans from Guatemala and Curacao.”

Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision.

Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult. CONCACAF will now work with FIFA to finalize a new schedule, beginning with the first round in March 2021, which will be communicated in due course.

BVI to face ‘tough’ group in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers

BVI drawn to play in Group C of the first round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers for Qatar 2022

The Draw for the first round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 took place in Zurich, Switzerland on August 19, 2020. The six highest ranked teams of were pre-seeded into groups A through F and revealed a number of exciting match-ups among the 30 teams.

The British Virgin Islands, led by 18-year-old Tyler Forbes, are in Group C and will look to rekindle the same fighting spirit they displayed in the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifiers. The BVI faces tough competition from Group C which includes Curacao, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Cuba.

“The team is very excited to play in this group especially with the talent we have and the growing bond we have together,” commented Forbes. “It won’t be easy, but we like a challenge and us underdogs we always seem to perform better like in the game against Martinique. I feel the BVI will be proud of us – and surprised too – when, hopefully, they get to see what we have to offer with some home games. After the hurricanes of 2017 and the Covid-19 pandemic, the team is hungry for success and ready to finally play in front of our home fans.”

BVIFA President, Andy Bickerton noted the World Cup Draw had thrown the BVI into a tough group and is hoping the pandemic won’t stop the opportunity of staging home games. “We have been drawn in a very strong group and have to hope that despite the COVID challenges we are able to play our home matches against Guatemala and Curacao in the BVI.”

Matches in the group are expected to take place from October 2020.

Full CONCACAF World Cup qualifying groups:

Group A: El Salvador, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Montserrat, United States Virgin Islands
Group B: Canada, Suriname, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Aruba
Group C: Curacao, Guatemala, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Cuba, British Virgin Islands
Group D: Panama, Dominican Republic, Barbados, Dominica, Anguilla