Brave Bermuda in narrow defeat
It may seem strange to get enthusiastic about a defeat, but Bermuda's performance against Trinidad has offered a genuine ray of hope for the rest of their World Cup qualifying campaign.
There was to be no repeat of the joyous scenes of three years ago when Bermuda beat Trinidad 2-1 in their backyard; a 44th minute header from Stoke City striker Kenwyne Jones saw to that.
But yesterday's encouraging result, while unlikely to send shockwaves through the Caribbean, should give Bermuda's players an injection of confidence ahead of their second qualifier against Guyana on Tuesday.
They were certainly able to leave the Hasely Crawford Stadium last night with their heads held aloft after providing a stern test for the Soca Warriors, who are 94 places above Bermuda in the FIFA rankings. And as first games in charge go, it was a pretty satisfying one for new head coach Devarr Boyles.
“We're very proud of the players tonight,” he said. “It was a performance full of resilience and that was very encouraging.”
The only gripe Boyles had with his players was that they switched off just before the interval, allowing Trinidad to score the all-important goal.
“There was about ten seconds to go when we conceded and that was disappointing,” Boyles said. “We had to get back in the changing room and refocus.”
In front of crowd of 3,500, Bermuda made a cautious start to their first senior international in more than three years, with Trinidad twice striking the woodwork during the opening half an hour.
Although the visitors were creating very little, they gave Trinidad a scare when Nahki Wells forced a fumble from Trinidad keeper Tony Warner with a venomous drive from distance.
Bermuda, including several players making their World Cup qualifying debuts, held firm until the stroke half-time when Jones struck the decisive blow with a powerful header from a Darryl Roberts cross. Moments earlier the big striker had gone close to breaking the deadlock with another header which the impressive Hall palmed away with a flying save for a corner.
After the break, Trinidad went close to doubling their advantage when Stern John saw his chipped effort drift agonisingly over Hall's crossbar.
At the other end, Wells was still causing a nuisance and again tested Warner, this time with a free header he should have perhaps done better with.
Far from getting carried away with Bermuda's promising backs-to-the-wall performance, Boyles said it would mean nothing if they failed to get a positive result against Guyana.
“We can take a lot of heart from this performance,” he said. “All of Trinidad's key players were out there tonight, all of them.
“We have to put the performance into perspective; to come to Trinidad and come up short is okay only if we go to Guyana and get something out of the game.”
Boyles admitted Bermuda would need to show more attacking intent against Guyana than they did against Trinidad.
“We're weren't able to show as much attacking potency as we would have liked and that's something we will have to talk about before the Guyana game.”
Guyana made a winning start to their Group B campaign by beating Barbados 2-0 at home yesterday.
Bermuda's starting line-up: F Hall, S Darrell, D Tankard (D Ming, 63), K Tucker, R Lee, T Manders, S DeGraff, R Lambe, T Burgess (L Dill, 63), N Wells (Z Lewis, 74), K Smith
Substitutes: C Casey, T Bell, Q Maynard, A Simmons, J Davis