Teams will be wary of us, says Leverock
Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, has warned that they no longer hold the advantage of being a surprise package as they prepare for their Concacaf Nations League campaign.
Kyle Lightbourne’s side host Panama in their opening group B match at the National Stadium tomorrow, the first of two games against the Central Americans in the space of four days, with the reverse fixture scheduled at the Rommel Fernández Stadium on Sunday.
Although Panama will go into the game as favourites, having featured in the World Cup in Russia last year, Leverock is adamant Bermuda will no longer be underestimated by the region’s powerhouses after their impressive Gold Cup campaign.
“We’re all looking forward to the game; it’s our first in League A, playing one of the top teams in the region, and we’re ready to test ourselves,” Leverock said.
“It always feels good to get everyone back together and we’re just desperate to show everyone, the region, the opposition, the Concacaf nations, that we’re here to compete and here to stay.
“We want to play in the top tier of games in the Nations League and the top teams in the region. We now have the opportunity and we have to show what we can do. It was a great Gold Cup campaign but looking back it was a little bit disappointing not getting out of the group. We didn’t just go there and compete, we got unlucky, but we’ll be back there because this is just the start.
“For a small nation like us and our first time making it through the Nations League qualifying format, I think most nations thought we’d be the whipping boys, but as everyone saw, we can play.
“However, because of that, I don’t think anyone will be underestimating us any more, so, as a result, we have to be at the top of our game as well.
“Panama qualified for the last World Cup and have been one of the top teams in the region for years now, along with the likes of Mexico and the United States.
“They also have professionals playing all around the world, so obviously it will be a real tough game.”
Leverock is well aware of the monumental task of remaining in League A, with the bottom team in each pool facing relegation to League B, but the Sligo Rovers defender is hopeful the momentum of the Gold Cup campaign and home advantage, can help inspire Bermuda to the perfect start.
“It’s always good playing at home with that support; it’s a major thing for the whole squad, so I’d encourage everyone to come out,” Leverock added.
“I’m expecting a large crowd because everyone is still feeling that buzz from the Gold Cup and now realising that we are among that top level.
“This is what all of Bermuda wanted and so now we have to take care of business and show just why we belong here.”
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