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Unfinished work forces BFA to pull out of qualifiers

  • Sports icon Thomas A. Robinson (left) and Neville Wisdom, former minister of youth and culture tour the new Thomas A. Robinson Stadium recently.

NG Sports Reporter

Published: Aug 22, 2011

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The unreadiness of the country’s national stadium has forced The Bahamas to withdraw from the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for men.

The Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium, which was a gift to The Bahamas from the People’s Republic of China is completed, but it is not opened to host any events due to the work in the surrounding area. As a result, the tough decision to pull the team from the second round of competition was made, but not released until Friday, by the executive members of the Bahamas Football Association (BFA). The official announcement appears on the regional body’s website, the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association (CONCACAF), where BFA president Anton Sealy was quoted in saying “the reason for the decision was the unavailability of the newly rebuilt Thomas Robinson National Stadium in Nassau.”

The shocking news comes just weeks outside of travel to Panama, where the senior men’s national team was set to play the first leg in the home-and-away series, September 2. Game two was penciled in for October 7, in New Providence, days after playing Dominica in their hometown.

National head coach Kevin Davies expressed disappointment about the withdrawal, especially after the months of hard work put in. He said: “The work has not all gone down the drain because we are committed to the sport. But knowing that we all put in the work to prepare and train was a little crushing. Obviously the team, after learning what happened, was very disappointed as well.  They some how feel a little bit let down and that is expected. We all feel down by the news.

“I am satisfied that BFA did all they could to make it happen. Unfortunately they were unable to pull it off.

There were a lot of mitigating factors but the long and short version of it is that the national stadium here isn’t ready. The Roscow Davies Field is not up to FIFA standards to host this level of competition. FIFA’s standard is that we play in a stadium for a number of reasons that they give. Our stadium is not ready. FIFA sets the dates of the games and there were difficulties in changing in the dates. It was very difficult for us to get from Panama straight to Dominica.”

The Bahamas was among 34 other countries from the region that advanced to the second round. The qualifying teams were divided into six groups of four­ with The Bahamas playing out of Group C with Panama, Dominica and Nicaragua. A group win is the only way a team would be able to move onto round three, where they will meet up with Cuba and Honduras. Even though The Bahamas has dropped out, the same qualifying format will still be used.

“We were allowed to switch the venues because we were supposed to play Dominica here but we asked if we could switch and I think they got back to us late,” said Davies. “Then we tried to see if we can use an alternate venue like Turks and Caicos or Cayman Islands. But just the logistics of that, obviously all of this takes money and at this time the BFA is not in a position to fund.”

The Bahamas prevailed with a 10-0 win in round one over Turks and Caicos Islands, earlier this summer. There is no doubt in Davies’ mind that they will not return to compete on such high levels.

He added: “Absolutely we have the talent to do that so getting back to this level again I don’t think is impossible or out the window. The chances are great. At this present time we were good enough to make some noise in this round, in terms of beating some quality opponents. I don’t know if we could win or not win, but that is why we play the game to decide who is going to win. If we already knew then we wouldn’t have to play.  I think our chances of getting back here is great but unfortunately we will have to wait another four years for it.”

Other countries competing in the second round are El Salvador, Suriname, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda, Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, St. Lucia, Grenada, Guatemala, St. Vincent/Grenadines, Belize, Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao and the US Virgin Islands.

Only six squads have already been named to round three, they are USA, Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, Honduras and Cuba.

No official date has been released as to when the stadium will be open to host local, regional or international events. On June 22, Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium was handed over to the Government of The Bahamas. The $30 million facility is the centerfold of the master plan for the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre. The 15,000 seat stadium was described by Prime Minster Hubert Ingraham as the “jewel in the crown of what will be a thoroughly modern, world-class Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre with facilities extending over 450 acres.”

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