It’s been about a month and half since The Bahamas’ senior men’s national soccer team was set to play French Guiana in the first match of a first round home-and-away series of the 2021 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup Qualifiers.
The games were set for March 26 and March 31 but have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The March 26 game was set to be a home game for The Bahamas and the other was an away game in French Guiana.
According to Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Secretary General Fred Lunn, there is no word as yet on the scheduling of the postponed games.
“The latest is that it is still postponed. We have to wait on our governing body (CONCACAF) to give us the go ahead. We have to wait on the relevant health agencies to give the go ahead to CONCACAF and I am sure they will let us know when that will be. We are hoping to see it happen later this year,” Lunn said.
A huge component with international matches is the availability of teams, travelling from one country to the next. The Bahamas will have to pass through the United States of America (USA) to get to French Guiana and vice versa as there are no direct flights. Lunn said that the future is unknown but he knows that there will be new travel regulations in place when everything begins to return to normal.
“In order to have these games, I think it is going to be a coordination of the various nations that are going to be involved and what the requirements will be to travel to those particular countries,” he said. “We are watching some of the news coming out of the USA with airlines and airports. The future might be that we will have to have some kind of clearance that you don’t have COVID-19. Those are the things we are going to have to wait and see what these new regulations might be based on where we are traveling and what countries we are going to have to go through.”
Since the country has gone into curfew and lockdown mode, sporting activities have come to a halt including team training sessions. The players of the senior men’s national team have been working out at home but Lunn noted that the players will need about two months to get back into game shape to compete at a high level internationally.
“I am hoping that we will have a few months’ window to try and put things together,” Lunn said. “Half of our team is studying abroad and some guys are working abroad. Hopefully, they can give us two months’ window to try to get the team back together. I know that players have been doing stuff on their own to try stay in shape but hopefully we can have a two-month window where we can start training again.”
Lunn also noted that any training program for the team will have to be based on government recommendations. Even if CONCACAF gives the go ahead, Lunn said they still will have to wait on the advice of local health professionals and the government in order to proceed.
The winner of this home-and-away series was set to play Bermuda next month in the second round of the qualifiers.
The Bahamas finished the CONCACAF Nations League last year at the top of League C Group B. They finished undefeated in a group that included Bonaire and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The team won three games and drew once.
The Bahamas’ Junkanoo Boys, as the senior men’s national team members are known, opened Nations League play last year with three straight wins before drawing the final match 1-1 against Bonaire. The Bahamian squad finished with 10 points in the group. Bonaire and BVI finished with seven and zero points respectively.
A new date for the matches will be announced later.