ST. GEORGE’S, Grenada – Belief. Commitment. Investment. These are words that are used all of the time in football when a new project gets put into place at the national team level.
Many times the words ring hollow, but that is not the case for Grenada; in fact they served as the cornerstone of one of Concacaf’s greatest national team renaissances as the Spice Boys marched to a first-place finish in Group A of League B of the Concacaf Nations League to qualify for promotion to League A and their first Concacaf Gold Cup berth since 2011.
“It gives me a real sense of pride to see what Grenada accomplished,” said former Grenada international and Concacaf Director of Development Jason Roberts in an interview with Concacaf.com. “I have huge respect for [Head Coach] Shalrie Joseph. He had a difficult time at first, but had belief in his players and coaching staff and belief in his plan.”
The rocky start was a 10-0 loss at Curacao in week one of CNL Qualifying, but it was during those dark days when Joseph started to find the identity of his squad.
“I continually asked myself, ‘am I seeing improvement?’ It was important to have all the players come to camp and show up in shape. The first step was strengthening the back and with time we improved. We were able to accomplish this because of the Nations League. It gave us that opportunity,” said Joseph in an interview with Concacaf.com.
Both Roberts and Joseph formed part of a generation of Grenada players that reached successive Concacaf Gold Cups in 2009 and 2011.
Roberts feels like the success of a decade ago has laid the foundation for the current Grenada team to go out and leave a bigger mark.
“Playing for Grenada was the highlight of my career and it is an amazing feeling to see someone like Shalrie lead this new generation of players,” said Roberts.
“There is very much a brotherhood of the 2009 and 2011 teams,” said Joseph. “They have been very encouraging, sending me messages. It feels good to have this generation improve on what we did.”
The celebrations have continued on the island since Grenada’s qualification, but Joseph’s thoughts are already turning to preparing his team for the 2021 Gold Cup. With the Nations League structure put in place by Concacaf, Joseph is confident that he’ll have a strong team ready to compete in League A and the Gold Cup.
“These Nations League games helped us plan and get an idea of what we wanted to do. It helped us analyze and identify players. Now it is time for us to continue forward. The Gold Cup is a huge event and we want to be ready,” concluded Joseph.