Sint Maarten turn to youth to banish memories
Sint Maarten are determined to show that they are better than the lopsided scoreline against Haiti suggests, as they get set to take on Bermuda tonight in their second Concacaf Nations League match at the National Sports Centre.
Sint Maarten, with a number of Haitian-born players in their team, were beaten 13-0. And though they aren’t setting their sights too high in this year’s inaugural Nations League campaign, they are building for the future with a young team.
The Dutch-Caribbean nation arrived in Bermuda on Wednesday with the bulk of their 18 players under the age of 20. In fact, in the Haiti match one of their players, midfielder Jean-Jacques Craane, was just 15 years old. Craane isn’t on this trip but several other teenagers are.
“Compared to the first game against Haiti I feel more confident about the players we have right now,” coach Elvis Albartus said as the team got set to train yesterday afternoon.
“Haiti was a good experience for you, but we’re not on that level yet. It will take time, but if you want to compete on a high level you have to train harder, work harder and work together. They are a very good team.
“I made some changes from the last game, with some young talent coming in and I have more confidence on the result of this game than the first game.”
Sint Maarten have a few Haitian-born players in their team. “They have been living for years in Sint Maarten and have a Dutch passport,” Albartus explained. “We also have some guys who are born in Holland but have lived most of their lives in Sint Maarten and their parents are from Sint Maarten.
“We aren’t looking so much at this game but in the future, a two to four-year plan and maybe you can see the results when we start the Nations League next year.
“We want to have a team so we can be competitive against the smaller islands in the Caribbean, that’s our vision. We have players from the under-20s, together with some senior players. From the 18 players here, 12 are under 20.
“The result, if positive would be nice, but we want to see the development of the players. We want to see progress in each game and I’m confident that with those guys we will see a difference between the team that played Haiti and the team that will play Bermuda tomorrow.”
Albartus took an interest in Bermuda’s match against Aruba, not just because they would be Sint Maarten’s next opponents. “I did, because I’m originally from Aruba,” he revealed.
“I saw their result against Bermuda and they did a very good job. We can do it also. I think we can make a very good match against Bermuda.”
Back in Sint Maarten they are still recovering from damage caused by Hurricane Irma last September, including damage to their airport and national stadium.
“We have only one pitch, but we have analysed what we have and where we want to go in the future with the Sint Maarten national team,” the coach explained.
“We have to play our games in Anguilla but we hope soon we will get a field so we can play some home games. It’s nice for the kids to see the national team playing, so that they want to play for the national team also.”
The team is enjoying their visit to Bermuda and looking forward to tonight’s match on the ‘carpet’. “It’s a beautiful island, nice people and I hope we can give them a very nice game tomorrow,” he said.
“That’s our main goal. I want people to say ‘they’re coming’.”