Bibi Gardner seeing growth as a coach
After enduring a difficult start to his senior coaching career with boyhood club Harbour View in his first season in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) before resigning midway the campaign, former Reggae Boyz captain Ricardo 'Bibi' Gardner now sees himself growing as a coach. He now hopes to make a mark in the Concacaf Champions League play-offs next month.
Jamaica and Caribbean champions, Portmore United - Gardner's new team, will face off against former winners Cruz Azul of Mexico in their Round-of-16 first-leg tie on February 18 or 20, with the second leg set for February 25 or 27.
The ex-Bolton Wanderers star knows his team will face a massive challenge in the form of the Mexican heavyweights, but he believes he and the team are mentally and tactically ready to face the task ahead.
"It (Champions League) is something that we are looking forward to. It's a platform for players to go out and put themselves on the market, so it's a competition that we are looking forward to and are preparing ourselves very hard for it," Gardner told STAR Sports.
"We have a group on and off the field that is together. We have set short and long-term goals and I don't think we are far off if we continue to improve and work together," he added.
Third successive c Crown
Weighing in on his team's domestic ambition, Gardner says taking over as coach of the back-to-back RSPL champions and leading them to a third successive crown will also be tough, but again sought to assure that they are determined and prepared to achieve their objectives.
"Of course (felt pressure at start of season), as in any professional environment, if you win back-to-back (titles), the third is always going to be difficult. But it's still in sight. It's a part of our goal and we will continue to work hard in training because it is something we want to achieve this season," he told STAR Sports.
"We have to take each game as it comes, as the next game is always the most important one, but just like any other game, we have to prepare ourselves and try to go out and execute to the best of our ability," he continued. "But I am enjoying life here at Portmore. The (coaching) experience is good, as long as you continue to learn as a coach and learn as an individual as you go along."
Gardner who has more than 100 caps for his country and played more than 300 matches for Bolton, currently holds a UEFA B coaching badge and he wants to continue making improvements to his coaching qualification.
"England is one of the best places in the world to learn and play the game at the highest level. It has one of the most watched leagues in the world and it's a place where people look to see progress in football itself, so to have my badge done there is massive for me. But it doesn't matter where you earn your badges in the world as long as you continue to learn," said Gardner.