Nusum to skipper new-look squad
Andrew Bascome has made his first major mark on the Bermuda national team after naming veteran defender John Barry Nusum as captain for the Digicel Cup campaign.
Despite being relieved of the armband, Khano Smith - who skippered Bermuda in last year’s World Cup qualifiers - has been included in Bascome’s new-look squad which leaves for Haiti today.
National Academy boss Richard Todd, who will act as Bascome’s assistant in the absence of Dennis Brown due to work commitments, believes Nusum has the qualities to be an inspirational leader for Bermuda.
“Obviously with Andrew coming in as head coach it’s his prerogative to name a captain who he feels most comfortable with,” said Todd. “I would say that John Barry is a very experienced player, has been through numerous campaigns and is present on the Island. I think that would have been a huge factor as John’s been able to help prepare the Island-based players along with Andrew. We’re certainly very confident in John’s ability to lead the team.”
Bermuda have been boosted by the availability of Reggie Lambe, who has recovered from a knee injury, while goalkeeper Freddy Hall has also been given the go-ahead to play for his country by Toronto FC. Todd believes the professional experience Lambe and Hall have gained at Toronto this season will help Bermuda hit the ground running in Haiti.
“It’s great that Freddy has been getting some regular games for Toronto. His confidence will be high and match sharpness will be good having started multiple games,” he said.
“We’re looking for all of the overseas professionals to have an impact not only on the field but also the dressing room. Having Freddy, Reggie and Taurean Manders, who had a really good World Cup campaign, is a huge plus for us. We also have players like Khano Smith and John Barry Nusum who have plenty of professional experience.”
In the absence of key players such as Nahki Wells, who opted to put his club career first, recently retired Sammy DeGraff, Kwame Steede and Keishen Bean, Bascome has fielded several newcomers in his 20-man squad.
Southampton Rangers new-boy Clay Darrell, St George’s defender David Signor, Devonshire Cougars winger Lejuan Simmons, Hamilton Parish striker Ian Coke, PHC pair Jahnai Raynor and Shakir Smith, along with the head coach’s son, Drewonde Bascome, have all been handed first-time call-ups.
A chief concern for Bascome’s side will be their lack of preparation having not played an international match since beating Barbados at home in the World Cup qualifiers last November.
Rather than force through new ideas on the eve of such an important tournament, Todd feels it’s important Bascome and his coaches build on the foundations laid by previous interim boss Devarr Boyles.
“I think what we’re looking for is continuity and to build on what’s already in place,” said Todd. “The time-span is too short for the new coach to implement the system and style of play he would absolutely like to see.
“In that sense we feel it’s best to rely on the base that’s already in place from the previous World Cup campaign and the Bermuda Hogges programme.
“But if the need arises we will look to make a few adjustments and we have prepared the group a little bit in that sense.
“There needs to be a continuation that’s the key. The new coaching staff has only just come on board and we will look to use (the Digicel Cup) as a positive step and hopefully qualify for the next round. That will allow more time for the coach and his staff to implement their vision and give us more time to better prepare the players.
“There are certain players who are unavailable for this round who have declared an interest in the second round.”
Bermuda take on Puerto Rico in the opening group game on Friday.
F Hall, T Bell, J Barry Nusum, D Cox, K Smith, S Darrell, T Burgess, D Signor, M Waldron, T Manders, S Smith, D Bascome, D Coddington, I Coke, D Ming, A Russell, R Lambe, C Darrell, L Simmons, J Raynor
Standby: M Williams, E Signor, C Caisey
Head coach: A Bascome
Assistant coach: R Todd
Assistant manager: L Smith
Physio: B Cashmore
Head of delegation: A Francis