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Barbados ready to knock off USA
January 8th, 2008 7AM
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Paul Kennedy on the latest CONCACAF news
[WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN] The technical adviser to the Barbados national team, the USA's probable opponent in the second round of World Cup qualifying, says the Bajan Rockets can upset the CONCACAF giant if they meet in June.

"I am quietly confident that we can upset America despite they are rated 109 places above us," Keith Griffith told the Sunday Sun recently. "It will be the greatest moment in the history of Barbados' football if we can knock out America."

Griffith's confidence flies in the face of history, however.

The USA and Barbados have met twice, and the Americans have won each time. In qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, the USA beat Barbados, 7-0, in Foxboro, Mass. In the final game of the semifinal qualifying round, the Americans needed to win in St. Michael to advance to the Hexagonal finals, and they won, 4-0, after going into halftime tied at 0-0.

The USA and Barbados will meet in June in a two-game series if, as expected, Barbados wins its first-round series with Dominica. The USA hosts the first game of the second-round series.

"If we can get the right result in the first leg in America," added Griffith, "when we play the return match, hopefully with home support, our overseas professionals and the top local players, we can make the country proud. I've been observing and analyzing a lot of the USA's warm-up matches and I consider them a very good team, but Barbados don't have to be afraid of them. I believe we can compete with them but we have to get at least five or six top overseas-based players."

English Premier-based players Griffith can call upon are striker Marlon Harewood, who joined Aston Villa from West Ham last summer for an $8 million transfer fee, and Wigan's Emmerson Boyce. Tom Soares, an England U-21 international of Bajan descent, and Paul Ifill play for Crystal Palace of the League Championship (English second-level).

The Barbados Football Association has put out a call for all players of Bajan descent to contact it by email about taking part in qualifying. Barbados plays its first friendly of 2008 on Sunday when it hosts Antigua & Barbuda.

TRINIDAD & TOBAGO. The Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation has named Colombian Francisco Maturana as the interim head coach of its national team through June 30, 2008.

Maturana holds the interim status because head coach Wim Rijsbergen, the former Cosmos star who was granted a four-year contract through 2010, was recently handed a six-month "suspension" for allegedly picking a fight with T&T's director of football, Lincoln Phillips, the former Howard University coach.

The 58-year-old Maturana, who coached Colombia at the 1990 and 1994 World Cups, will begin work on Feb. 1. T&R's first game of 2008 will be on Feb. 6 against Guadeloupe.

The Soca Warriors called in eight overseas-based players invited for the friendly, including Sunderland's Kenwyne Jones, one of the top young forwards in the English Premier League.

Other players called up include Toronto FC's Collin Samuel, former MLS star Stern John, now at Southampton, and Sparta Rotterdam forward Darryl Roberts, who played his college ball at Liberty University.

JANUARY FRIENDLIES
Jan. 13
Barbados vs. Antigua & Barbuda
Guyana vs. St. Vincent & Grenadines
Costa Rica vs. Sweden
Jan. 16
Bermuda vs. Puerto Rico
Jan. 18
Bermuda vs. Puerto Rico
Jan. 19
USA vs. Sweden
Jan. 23
Haiti vs. El Salvador
Jan. 27
El Salvador vs. Estonia
Jan. 30
El Salvador vs. Estonia
Iran vs. Costa Rica



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