World Cup 2014: Trinidad to host qualifying opener

Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro will host the full World Cup draw in July

Qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil will get under way on Wednesday with Trinidad hosting a preliminary match between Montserrat and Belize.

With 31 spots up for grabs at the tournament, the first of 832 qualifiers will be played in the Caribbean because of Montserrat's ill-equipped stadium.

Montserrat are ranked 202nd, 30 places below their opponents, and coached by 46-year-old Londoner Kenny Dyer.

"It's not easy trying to get players but there's national pride," Dyer said.

The two teams are competing in a first-leg match in Couva, hoping eventually to progress from the North, Central American and Caribbean (Concacaf) region.

Dyer, whose team haven't played a competitive match since October, told BBC Radio 5 live: "We've got players who work in McDonald's, accountants, a few full-time professionals, policemen.

"Some players are seeing each other for the first time. It's about team spirit and camaraderie.

"We all know where we are and how low-ranked Montserrat is. Playing international football doesn't come to everyone, so the players blessed with the ability will come in and grasp it.

"It's a big ask, but it's about 90 minutes and we can play well."

Despite Montserrat being among a number of Caribbean Football Union members targeted in an ongoing Fifa investigation into bribery, Dyer, who started coaching Montserrat in 2008, insisted his players remain focused.

"There is no distraction," stated Dyer, who played youth football for Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, as well as competing professionally for Maidstone United and in Cyprus.

"There's only one thing on their minds and that's training and getting the right result."

Montserrat was devastated when the Soufriere Hills volcano erupted in 1995, one year before gaining Fifa membership.

In three World Cup qualifying campaigns, they have never won a match nor played on a home ground.

Europe's 53 teams, including defending champions Spain, will find out who they face in qualifying when the draw takes place on 30 July, while their groups begin in September 2012.

Concacaf's strongest teams, including the United States and Mexico, get going in June 2012.

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