ST JOHN’S, Antigua — As Antigua and Barbuda prepare to take on Suriname, Dominica and Cuba as hosts of Group G in the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010, technical director for the team, Billy McEwan, took a few moments to speak exclusively to digicelfootball.com about the team’s preparation for the upcoming games and the importance of the Digicel Caribbean Cup for the region.
McEwan, a former manager of English League side, Sheffield United, said, “We’re feeling confident about the games and the guys have been working hard to prepare. They have shown great commitment and put in a lot of effort. As hosts of Group G, the players are looking forward to going out and showing what they’re capable of so that the fans and the rest of the Caribbean will take notice of them.
“In terms of preparation, for the last three weeks or so they have been training full time and previous to that with their club sides – so they’re all in good condition and have worked hard to date.
“Competing in this tournament is a first for many of the players, so it’s very exciting. Obviously in hosting a Group and being the home side there is a little bit of pressure and tension which can be tough. However, as long as they get out there and enjoy themselves, they’ll show their strengths. In terms of the teams, Cuba is probably the strongest nation and as we’ve lost the last four times to them – we’re due a win!
“The Digicel Caribbean Cup is a fantastic opportunity for Antigua and Barbuda to help them get on the map and get recognised. It is a chance for them to improve in the FIFA world rankings and try to get into the top 100 – that’s where the prestige is for the team here.
“We have three players in from England to play this week. Justin Cochrane who plays for Borehamwood FC and Mikele Leigertwood who plays for Queens Park Rangers (QPR) and have both played for their national team previously. However, Josh Parker – also with QPR – will be getting his first international cap for Antigua and Barbuda this week so it’s very exciting for him too.
“Initiatives such as the Digicel football clinics are critically important for the development of football in the region at grass roots level. It’s very good of Digicel and Sunderland AFC to partner with one another. For Sunderland, it shows they are forward-thinking in seeing the opportunities that are out here in the Caribbean. There is talent out here for sure – we only have to look at the Antigua & Barbuda talent in England to know that and if they find a little diamond out here – that’s great for them. And for the boys themselves, it is a wonderful opportunity to gain coaching experience from people at that level.
“This week, the local support for Antigua & Barbuda is vital. The more support, backing and encouragement they get, the better. It’s a fantastic tournament for all concerned in the region – the players, the Antigua and Barbuda Football Association – and of course the fans, who are in for some great displays of football.”
Antigua and Barbuda will host Group G of the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010 from November 10 to November 14 at the Antigua Recreation Grounds.