Bermuda look to soar up world rankings
Bermuda still have plenty at stake ahead of their home double-header against Barbados with two wins likely to catapult them into the world's top 100 teams.
Since the start of their World Cup campaign, Bermuda have climbed 57 places to 132nd in FIFA's rankings: the country's highest position for several years.
Although their two remaining qualifiers resemble 'dead rubbers', they could have a huge bearing in whether Bermuda are a top seeded team at next year's Digicel Cup.
And with Bermuda looking to take advantage of FIFA's next international friendly date in February 29, Mark Wade, Bermuda Football Association's (BFA) player development committee chairman, believes their ranking could determine whether they can attract a higher calibre of opposition.
“Even though we can't advance in the World Cup we're looking forward to these games against Barbados. We have an eye on the FIFA friendly dates for 2012 to prepare us for the Digicel Cup,” he said.
“There are a lot of knock-on effects from these two matches because we're certainly looking for another big jump up the FIFA rankings. The higher we are in the rankings the more attractive we are to other teams looking for practice matches; it will keep us in the shop window.
“If we finish with two wins over Barbados I will have a wonderful Christmas these matches are still very significant for us.”
Bermuda are to play both qualifiers against Barbados at the National Sports Centre as part of a mutually beneficial cost cutting exercise, which will save the BFA tenths of thousands in dollars.
The two teams had been scheduled to play each other home and away before the Barbados Football Association requested to play both games on the road.
Wade added: “It's no secret that everyone's trying to cut costs and we jumped at the opportunity. We're very excited to be able to play another two matches at home and it will give the fans another chance to see our players. We're hoping for a bumper crowd just as we did against Trinidad and Guyana.”
Khano Smith will again skipper Bermuda against Barbados while overseas-based players Nahki Wells, Taurean Manders and Quadir Maynard have also confirmed their availability.
However, Bermuda are facing a goalkeeping crisis with first choice Freddy Hall believed to be unavailable while his understudy Tahj Bell is still serving a suspension.
Striker Antwan Russell will also miss next Friday's opening game after picking up two yellow cards in last month's matches against Trinidad and Guyana.
Bermuda coach Devarr Boyles admitted he would be adding a few fresh faces to his squad.
“The players are looking forward to playing more games at home,” he said. “It will give some opportunities to a few new players. We have some players missing through either cautions or unavailability, and there are other players who deserve a chance.”
Barbados are rooted to the bottom of Group B having lost all four of their qualifiers and are still without a goal to their name.
Bermuda, who are third in Group B with four points, are unbeaten at home having defeated Trinidad and drawn with Guyana last month.
The two teams meet next Friday at 3pm, and Monday, November 14 at 8pm.
For tickets visit www.bermudafa.com or flytix.com. Prices are as follows: Grandstand $25; general seating $15; children under-12 (general seating) $10, seniors (general seating $10).
The team's replica jersey is also now on sale for $65 at the BFA office.