Smith proud to watch Bermuda’s progression
Watching Bermuda go “toe to toe” and hold their own against the region’s elite on their debut at the Concacaf Gold Cup gave Khano Smith a great sense of pride.
Bermuda finished third in group B behind Haiti and Costa Rica, the two qualifiers, to miss out on advancing to the next round.
Despite bowing at the group stage, Smith was “extremely proud” of Bermuda’s gutsy display.
“I am extremely proud of all of them and get goose bumps just talking about it, those guys being on that stage and performing that well,” the former Dandy Town, New England Revolution and Bermuda striker said.
“They weren’t afraid and were going at teams. Costa Rica has world-class players, Haiti is an improving country and we went toe to toe with both those nations and had opportunities to win the game.
“They just didn’t back down and a couple of chances go the other way and we could’ve been talking a whole different story.”
Smith, who has also captained Bermuda, is encouraged with the progress the national team has made and hopes they can continue to “aim higher”.
“I like the direction the programme is going and from now it’s just the responsibility of everyone involved to keep it going,” he added. “This Gold Cup can’t be the peak for us. We need to aim higher.
“Next time we need to get out of the group stage and do well in this Nations League that they‘ve got coming up, that’s another incredible opportunity because they are going to play against world-class players again in Mexico and Panana.
“It’s just keep growing. Kenny Thompson (former national coach) always used to tell us that you have to leave the programme in a better place than you found it. Those guys have done that and they have to continue to grow and people that come after also to get us up in the top positions in the Concacaf region.”
Smith got an even greater sense of pride from the manner in which his cousin Dante Leverock performed his duties wearing the captain’s armband for Bermuda on the big stage.
“To see him [Leverock] grow into the leader and his whole aura, the way he speaks and the way he leads is just so pleasing,” he added.
“It’s definitely an honour to be captain of your country and to watch him do it, and do it so well, was so really pleasing because I think he did an extremely good job.”
Like his cousin, Smith also played under coach Lightbourne during his stint as Bermuda’s captain.
“Obviously Kyle has done a lot for Bermuda football as a player and now as the coach,” he said. “His demeanour and the way he led the group I thought was fantastic.
“His message was key and was always ‘we’re not coming here to make up the numbers’. ‘We’re not here to sit back and defend, we’re here to go at these teams and make names for ourselves’.”
Leverock was one of six Bermuda players and three members of the team’s coaching staff whose careers started in humble settings at Dandy Town.
He is also one of four former Town players now playing professionally overseas which also includes Nahki Wells, Reggie Lambe and Zeiko Lewis.
“Dandy Town’s success speaks for itself,” Leverock, the Sligo Rovers defender, said. “The club has produced a lot of players that have gone on to play professional and coach at a high level, so that’s credit to the club. A great club where I learnt to love playing this game.”
Smith added: “It’s obviously something happening there for the club to be able to continue to produce professional players.
“I just think it’s down to the whole culture of the club, the people who coach at the club and the people who played before us.
“We didn’t make the game up ourselves so it’s obviously guys that inspired us and then again that’s your duty, to inspire the next generation, and I think those guys have done that.
“People did it for me. There were guys playing before me that inspired me to play and be the best that I can be.”