Lightbourne frustrated by nature of Bermuda’s exit

  • Bright spark: Luciano Swan, seen here in action against Barbados, has all three of Bermuda’s goals at the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Puerto Rico (Photograph supplied)
  • Waste not, want not: assistant coach Kyle Lightbourne bemoaned Bermuda’s inability to make possession count (File photograph)

Bermuda will be looking to salvage some pride from what has been an otherwise disappointing Concacaf Under-20 Championship qualifying campaign in Puerto Rico when they face the host nation in their final group match tomorrow.

The island’s hopes of progressing to the second group stage of qualifiers were dashed after losing 2-1 against Cayman Islands at the Juan Ramón Lubriel Stadium in San Juan yesterday.

Bermuda led and dominated possession. However, they were unable to finish the job, as the Caymanians scored two unanswered goals after the break to complete a comeback.

“Another game we definitely should not have lost,” Kyle Lightbourne, the assistant coach, said. “We dominated the game and had plenty of the ball.

“We took the lead right before half-time. We came out second half and continued controlling the game, and they scored against the run of play.

“We stepped our game up again, but couldn’t get the second goal and they score a header from a free kick in the last minute of the game. So very disappointing.”

Lightbourne said back-to-back losses to Barbados (3-2) and the Caymans are not a true reflection of the team’s performances.

“It’s disappointing for me as a coach that we are a better team than these, but we can’t get the results,” he said.

“This is where we are with the boys. Now we have to get them up for the next match and see if we can finish this tour off on a good note.”

Ray Jones, the Bermuda Under-20 coach, made four changes to his starting line-up from the previous match against Barbados.

Midfielder Simeon Burrows came in for the suspended Malachi Trott, defender Malik Joell for the injured Rayquon Woodley-Smith, midfielder Khiari Sharrieff-Hayward for Ne-Jai Tucker and defender Amir Thomas for Jalun Hassell.

Luciano Swan, the Bermuda striker, who netted both of the island’s goals in their group opener against Barbados, continued his superb form when he put his team-mates out front from a free kick in first-half stoppage time.

However, despite bossing the game, Bermuda were unable to contain the Caymans, who first equalised and then grabbed a late winner to send their opponents crashing out of the competition.

The eventual winner of group D will advance along with the winners of the remaining three first-round qualifying groups to the second-round group stage, featuring five-times Concacaf under-20 champions Mexico.

The top three nations from each of the four groups during the second round group stage will then advance to the main tournament, which will take place from June 20 to July 5 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The Concacaf Under-20 Championship is a single-match elimination format, with the semi-finalists qualifying to the Under-20 World Cup in Indonesia next year.

Bermuda had been bidding to qualify for the Concacaf Under-20 Championship for the third straight time, having featured in the previous two tournaments held in Costa Rica and the United States in 2017 and 2018.

The island finished bottom of group E with one point after a goalless draw against Barbados at IMG Soccer Complex Field in Bradenton, Florida, in their previous appearance at the championship.

Bermuda have a record at the championship of nine wins, four draws and nine defeats.