Browne’s Benna Boys Gain First-Leg Win

Rhys Browne’s Antigua and Barbuda won the first leg of their CONCACAF World Cup qualifier against Guatemala 1-0 on Friday night, and now prepare for Monday’s return leg in Guatemala City.

Southend United’s Myles Weston scored a 74th minute penalty to give The Benna Boys a slender advantage despite Guatemala twice hitting the post in the second-half.

“It was just one of those games, they didn’t take their chances and we took ours,” explained Rhys nonchalantly. “That’s how you win games.”

Although remaining on the bench for the full 90 minutes, Browne admitted that “the passion took over” as he raced down the touchline to celebrate Weston’s goal with his team-mates – and he now feels they have a great chance to progress to the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018.

“Even more so now that we have the advantage,” he stressed. “It was very important to win the home leg. When you go away from home it’s always harder, so taking that advantage (to Guatemala City) will help us massively. But we know it isn’t going to be easy, they have some really good players who can change games, so we have to stay focused to get the job done.”

Browne and the Benna Boys squad flew to Miami on Saturday, from where they will complete the trip to Guatemala City on Sunday. Throughout, of course, Rhys will remain a loyal member of Piotr Nowak’s squad, whether he is involved or not.

“I hope to be involved. Against a different opponent I would’ve started, like I did against St Lucia (in June’s second round tie). But it’s not all about me, the manager has his strategy and what players fit in that strategy will play that game.”

Also included in the Antigua and Barbuda squad are Millwall’s Mahlon Romeo, former Motherwell winger Zaine Francis-Angol, Hull City’s Calum Jahraldo-Martin, Bromley defender Aaron Tumwa, Red Star Belgrade’s Josh Parker – currently on loan at Aberdeen – and Bishop Stortford’s Connor Peters.

Kick-off for the second-leg, at the 30,000-capacity Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, is 3.06am GMT on Tuesday. If the Benna Boys avoid defeat, they will progress to a qualification group alongside the United States of America, Trinidad and Tobago and either St Vincent and the Grenadines or Aruba. The top two teams from this group advance to the fifth and final qualification round, scheduled for October 2017.