Manders waits for club ok to play in Caribbean Cup
Tough tackler Taurean Manders hopes to receive York Region Shooters blessing to play for Bermuda in next month’s Digicel Caribbean Cup in Haiti.
UK-based triumvirate Nahki Wells, Jonte Smith and Dale Eve have all made themselves unavailable for the biennial competition but Manders is keen to be involved.
An ever-present during last year’s World Cup qualifiers, the 26-year-old is almost certain to be named in Andrew Bascome’s first squad since he being appointed Bermuda coach.
And although he has never previously worked with Bascome, Manders believes the former Robin Hood boss will be a ‘good fit’ for Bermuda, who have been grouped with Haiti, Puerto Rico and St Martin.
“I have heard nothing but good things about Andrew. I have never had the chance to work with him before but I have had one or two conversations with him and he definitely knows football and should be a good fit,” he said.
“I need to talk to my club first but I always like to make myself available for Bermuda so hopefully it will be no different this time around.”
Manders was arguably Bermuda’s most consistent performer during their encouraging World Cup qualifying campaign, which saw them remain undefeated in their last four matches, winning three and drawing one.
And he is confident they can build on those solid foundations and advance to the next stage of the Digicel Cup by finishing in the top two of their group.
“I think we have gained confidence from the World Cup qualifiers and if we can get close to selecting that team we should be good,” said Manders, who was included in Bermuda’s 2006 Digicel Cup squad under then coach Kyle Lightbourne.
“We have a good chance of qualifying from the group. The top two advance so we should have a go at it.
“Puerto Rico have just had a friendly against Spain and represented themselves well, and Haiti are always a tough team to play against.”
After being left in limbo when his former club Capital City withdrew from the Canadian Soccer League (CSL), Manders signed for Shooters as a free agent in May.
Shooters lie fourth in the CSL and look set to claim a play-off berth, although Manders insists they should be higher up the table having thrown away far too many points this term.
“The season has been good so far although I think we could be in a better position than we are,” said Manders, who would miss two games for Shooters should he play for Bermuda in the Digicel Cup.
“We have more draws than wins and yet we’re still in fourth at the moment. A couple of those draws we feel should have been wins and then we would be right up there at the top.
“But we only have had one loss all season so it’s not bad. It bodes well going into the play-offs because it shows we won’t be an easy team to beat. We just need to get a rhythm and create more chances.”
In some respects Manders has become a victim of his own versatility for Shooters this season with the 5ft 7ins midfielder even filling in as an emergency centre half on more than one occasion.
While the selfless utility man insists he more than happy to perform any role required from him, he admits the constant positional changes have seen him struggle to discover his best form.
“Personally, it’s been more of an up and down season than last year form wise,” said Manders, who scored in his team's 3-1 win of New York Astros at the weekend. “I’m still trying to find a good understanding with the players as well as the team’s style.
“It also could be that I have been moved around positions more this year so it’s hard to get a good rhythm. I’ve even been an emergency centre back on a couple occasions.
“A couple of guys have joked that I should check Guinness Book of Records for the shortest professional centre back ever.”
Shooters take on SC Toronto away on Friday.
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