Under-20s sign off with draw
Kyle Lightbourne hailed the character of his Bermuda Under-20 players after they came from behind to earn a draw against Puerto Rico in their final Concacaf Under-20 Championship qualifying group match in San Juan last night.
Coach Ray Jones’s team found themselves with an uphill struggle after falling 2-0 behind in the opening 30 minutes.
However, Bermuda rallied and hit back via goals from Luciano Swan and Ayleal Dill either side of the break to salvage some pride from an otherwise disappointing campaign, having come up short in their bid to progress to the second group stage of qualifiers.
“We had a poor start to the game, but the boys, after being 2-0 down, showed character and heart to finish the tournament on a little bit of a good note,” Lightbourne, the Bermuda under-20 assistant coach, said.
Bermuda went into the match having already been eliminated from the qualifiers after back-to-back losses against Barbados (3-2) and Cayman Island (2-1) in their opening two group D matches.
“We wanted to qualify for the next round, but it wasn’t to be,” Lightbourne added.
“We scored in every game, but we’re conceding goals and so we need to be better in that department.
“Overall, I think it’s a lesson for the boys.”
Barbados won all three of their matches to win the group and secure the only spot in the second group stage up for grabs.
“Fair play to Barbados because they won all three of their games,” Lightbourne said.
“They are the better team in this tournament as far as wins. But it was nothing in it for us between us and Barbados, which was the big game. We are the only team that scored against them.
“We matched them and fell short when we went down to ten men, but that doesn’t tell the whole story, and I think it’s a learning opportunity for a lot of the youngsters.”
Bermuda were forced to chase the game after Puerto Rico jumped out to a 2-0 advantage.
Striker Swan, the island’s top scorer at the tournament with four goals, pulled one back from the penalty spot just before the interval.
Dill then grabbed the equaliser in the second half to earn Bermuda their only point of the tournament.
“Ayleal did well throughout the match,” Lightbourne added. “He held the ball up for us and ran his socks off.”
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