Former D.C. United, Philadelphia Union and US Olympic team coach Peter Nowak has popped up in an unexpected new locale, as the new technical director of the Antigua & Barbuda national team program.
A distinguished Polish international during his own playing days who starred for the Chicago Fire in that club's early years, Nowak led D.C. to the MLS Cup title in 2004 and coached the US team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But he left the Union under a cloud in 2012 and quietly took up a post at a youth club in Delaware.
Now he's been drawn to a new challenge in the Caribbean as little Antigua & Barbuda – who gave the US national team all they could handle in the early stages of 2014 World Cup qualifying – try to climb into the CONCACAF elite, starting with their quest for a place in next summer's Gold Cup.
Nowak and the Benna Boys are currently in Jamaica for the 2014 Caribbean Cup, the tournament which decides which four to five teams will represent the subregion in the Gold Cup. The event's champion will also book a berth in the 2016 Copa America Centenario, the special anniversary edition of the South American tournament which will include six CONCACAF nations and be held in the US.
“I think we are all very positive about the last two rounds we played as a team and now we are looking forward to this tournament. I think we have a good group of players and that they have come together in the last two tournaments and I think they believe in each other,” Nowak said in an interview on Antigua's “Good Morning JoJo Sports Show” this week, before his team kicked off their Caribbean Cup campaign.
“I believe we still have to find our own identity as a team, and that’s going to take time and that’s going to take good steps. We’re on a good way now, the past two months, so as I said, this is good foundation for the future work, not only for the senior team, but also for the younger teams.”
Antigua drew Haiti 2-2 in their opening Caribbean Cup match in Montego Bay on Wednesday, rallying from a 2-0 halftime deficit to earn a point in a tough-looking Group B that also includes Martinique and hosts Jamaica.