Saint Lucia is looking to regroup and prepare to participate in other upcoming encounters after suffering a loss to Sint Maarten in their final CONCACAF Nations League B fixture at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground [DSCG], on Sunday.
Nevertheless, Head Coach Stern John commended the team for its resilience and having matured from “boys to men” on the journey for higher rankings in regional football.
On Sunday, Team Saint Lucia went down to Sint Maarten 1-2, after taking an early lead with clear indications that they were in for another block-buster affair.
However, following the spark that accompanied the first goal, Team 758 appeared to have faded out and lacked the urgency needed to take on their opponents. Sunday’s fixture at the DSCG, was in total contrast to the earlier game that had propelled Saint Lucia to defeat the Dutch colony team 5-1 in an away match.
The home team was aggressive early on with Caniggia Elva taking a shot at the goal in the third minute, but Sint Maarten goalkeeper, Tyrell Richardson got his hands on it and deflected the shot. This would be one of the many saves that the Dutch custodian brought off to thwart the advances of the Saint Lucian strikers.
Team Saint Lucia captain Terell Thomas headed in the opening goal in the 17th minute off a corner kick from Kurt Frederick that took a friendly bounce inside the box.
Sint Maarten striker Gerwin Lake tried the spectacular with an effort from near midfield but was denied by the crossbar. Lake had another effort from outside the box in the 23’ but was denied by the hands of Vino Barclett.
Sint Maarten finally broke through with the equalizer in the 38th minute as Chovanie Amatkarijo put the finishing touch to a buildup.
Lake extended the lead for the visitors in the 57 minute with a dribble into the box and the power hit past Barclett.
And in between play, there appeared to be something amiss as many goal scoring opportunities went abegging for Saint Lucia, to send the 700-strong Sunday afternoon crowd into fits of frenzy, as they kept on rooting for the home side. Striker Andrus Remy had a ‘poor day’ and missed the target on a few occasions from seemingly advantageous points.
This summed up the lack of intent of the offense, though Elva was busy and sometimes dangerous sending some searing passes into the path of his teammates.
Malik St. Prix nearly tied it in the 74’ but his attempt in the box went over the crossbar.
Barclett made a couple of saves to deny T-Shawn Illidge at the 90’ and Elmer De Vries in stoppage time.
St. Prix had one last header to equalize, but was denied by Richardson as both St. Lucia and Sint Maarten secured their stay in League B.
In the other League B game, Guadeloupe thrashed St. Kitts Nevis 5 – 0 to top Group A and gain promotion to League A.
In the post-match interview, coach John stated that they were a bit disappointed with the result, since coming into the game “we had a good opportunity to win the game, but in football you have to show up and make sure you can win the game as well.”
Considering Team Saint Lucia’s performance for the season, with three wins, two losses and one draw, the coach said, “The overall campaign was very good …since not anyone had given us a chance to be in the top two teams (in the group) for most of the campaign”
John added: “I feel the players came in as boys and they have grown as men. We were able to compete against teams that we were unable to compete against before …and that’s how we started off, to be able to compete against some of the best teams around the Caribbean.”
With the momentum going forward, what does coach John envisage in continuing the team buildup into a formidable unit?
“It’s a process and we are building a team here. In the next couple of months, we will go back and try and recruit some more players to get us stronger,” he explained.
John asserted: “I feel we need to be stronger in depth …because we look at the bench …and we are missing a couple of key players and we didn’t have nothing coming off the bench.
“All in all, the team is growing from strength to strength and growing stronger every game and we got a taste of international football and saw what it’s like in the Nations League.”