The British Virgin Islands have sought the help of the former Jamaican star and Reggae Boy' Michael Tulloch, as they prepare for their crucial match against neighbouring island St. Lucia in the first round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany.
Tulloch, who only arrived in the Virgin Islands at the beginning of the year, knows he has a man-size task in front of him. "Up until now, the team hasn't been very professional when it comes to training," he told FIFAworldcup.com. The Jamaican will be calling on all his expertise and experience in an attempt to mould his charges into a capable footballing unit.
"I'm working very hard to get the lads ready for St. Lucia," says Tulloch, for whom simply recruiting the players is no mean feat. With a pool of just 20,000 inhabitants, the national coach has his work cut out. "The problem is that we just don't have many players to pick from. We are only a small country," Tulloch explains. "There are a couple of clubs who play here, but most of the players come from other islands."
The first meeting between the two teams comes on 22 February in the Shirley Recreation Ground, leaving the former Jamaican striker just a short space of time to smooth out the rough edges. "I've seen St. Lucia a couple of times, including in matches against Jamaica. They are a strong team, but we can keep pace with them if we play for one another," claims Tulloch, whose playing career with Jamaica stretched from 1980 to 1988.
"The players train together every day, usually in the evenings after work and are making good progress. My main focus is our mental strength. In terms of conditioning, the boys are at least 80 percent there," claims the former Reggae Boy.
An uphill battle
It is only the second time that the British Virgin Islands have taken part in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Their debut appearance, four years ago, was a glorious failure, losing 1-5 and 0-9 to Bermuda with Prince Williams scoring the Virgin Islands' only goal.
Tulloch's charges have played a number of unofficial friendlies against a variety of opposition in the space of two weeks to prepare for the encounters with St. Lucia.
"Expectations here on the islands are high. The people want to see respectable results," said the Jamaican: "Individually the team is very skilful. If they can just combine as a team we are in business."