Coke hopes scoring form earns him call-up
Ian Coke, the Boulevard striker, hopes his goalscoring form in the Premier Division will be rewarded with a call-up to the Bermuda squad for the Caribbean Cup first-round qualifiers.
Coke is expected to be included in head coach Andrew Bascome’s travelling party for this week’s trip to St Kitts and Nevis, where Bermuda will play friendly matches against the Caribbean island’s under-20 side and senior team.
The 26-year-old was part of Bermuda’s previous Caribbean Cup campaign in Puerto Rico in 2012 when Bascome’s side, without several key players, failed to qualify from their group.
Coke has not featured for Bermuda since, missing out on last year’s World Cup qualifying squad, finding himself firmly down the pecking order behind English-based professionals Nahki Wells, Rai Simons and Jonté Smith.
But with Wells, the Bermuda captain, doubtful for the first-round group matches away to Cuba on March 22 and at home to French Guiana four days later, and uncertainty surrounding the availability of Simons and Smith, Coke believes there could be opportunities for the locally based strikers.
“I’ve been in and around the team for quite some time but I haven’t really had a fair go at it,” Coke said. “I’m looking for this to be my time.
“Andrew [Bascome] asked about me and invited me to come training and hopefully he picks me for the games.
“I always want to play for my country and next to [Boulevard’s] red, gold and green jersey, the blue, red and white of Bermuda is the next best thing.”
Coke has cut a refreshed, rejuvenated figure since returning to Boulevard, his boyhood club, from Hamilton Parish, scoring seven league goals this season to help lift his side to fourth in the table.
The diminutive striker struck 22 goals last season as Boulevard claimed the First Division title and admits he feels as sharp as he has ever done during his career.
“My team-mates keep feeding me the ball and I’m just happy to put it home and to continue to get goals for the team,” he said.
“I haven’t been in the Premier Division for too long after spells at university, so I wasn’t playing locally, but I’m feeling really sharp.
“I had a chance at Hamilton Parish but it didn’t go too well. Now I’m back home [at Boulevard] things are going much better.”
Bascome is expected to announce his squad for the trip to St Kitts and Nevis tomorrow.
Dale Eve, the Forest Green Rovers goalkeeper, has ruled himself out of the warm-up games although he is keen to be involved in the first-round matches.
Bermuda and St Kitts and Nevis previously met in two World Cup qualifying warm-up games at the National Stadium in December 2007.
The home side, under the stewardship of Keith Tucker, lost the first encounter 2-1 before defeating the visiting side 4-1, courtesy of a Aljame Zuill hat-trick.
St Kitts are 40 places above Bermuda in the Fifa world rankings in 118th position.
• Jonté Smith scored a penalty in Lewes’ 2-1 away defeat to Enfield in the Ryman League at the weekend.
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