St. John’s Antigua- Head of Caribbean Football Union (CFU), Gordon “Banks” Derrick, said it is a possibility that the sub-region’s flagship tournament could be given new dates for 2013.
Derrick made the revelation during a press conference held Thursday at Heritage Hotel, saying that CFU will “investigate the timing of the tournament.”
New dates, he said, will make a number of overseas-based players available for the various teams.
“One of the things we will also be investigating is the timing of the tournament. Presently, the tournament is being played in November or December and access to a number of professional players in the European leagues is a hindrance. So as our flagship tournament, and we want our best players on display, one of the things they will also be looking at is the possibility of shifting the tournament into the FIFA calendar so that our best players can be available at all times for this tournament,” he said.
Derrick, a former player, further highlighted that the competition is no longer dominated by the traditional powerhouses in Caribbean football; but that instead, equality has taken over.
“What this tournament has taught us is that anybody can qualify now to the finals. In years gone by, and no fault of theirs because they were the stronger teams, but you were almost guaranteed that Trinidad and Jamaica would be in the semifinals just because of their strengths and that’s good,” Derrick said.
“But what this is showing is that other countries have been doing their homework, have been applying themselves, have been using the FIFA Development Funds available to them in the technical aspects and this is being shown on the field of play.”
He added: “The quality of football was lovely, high quality of football. When you see the likes of the Dominican Republic displaying a lot of beautiful one-two football; they were not successful because they came up against more experienced teams, but the quality of play has risen significantly.”
CFU, in a move to have patrons come out in support of the semis and finals slated for Friday and Sunday nights respectively, have decided to keep the entrance fee at its minimal.
He said, however, they had hoped that certain teams would have made it to the next round in order to entice the Antiguan public to turn out on both days.
“In planning the tournament obviously, the local association would have figured in their minds that the Antigua team would have at least made it to the semi-final round and also the other home team, Jamaica, would have also made it to the semi-final round; so we would have had two home teams, so to speak, because of the large Jamaican migrant population here. But of course, that’s not how football is played. So since the two teams did not perform and are not duly justified to be in the semi-final round, we must take it from there,” he said.
“What we will do though is remain the cost for the semi-finals and the finals at $20 adults and $10 children to try and encourage the fans to come out, seeing that none of the actual finalists are (from) the region and we want a crowd there so that the players can really perform in front of an audience,” the CFU president said.
Hosts Antigua & Barbuda and defending champions Jamaica were both eliminated in the group stages. Antigua & Barbuda Benna Boys finished with three points after only a single victory, while Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz finished with a single point only after managing a draw.