Smith urges Bermuda to end campaign on a winning note
Bermuda skipper Khano Smith has backed his men to win their final two World Cup qualifying group games and end their campaign on a high note.
Devarr Boyles’ side face back-to-back qualifiers against Barbados, but have no chance of topping a four-nation group headed by Guyana and with Trinidad & Tobago in second.
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, as part of a mutually beneficial cost cutting agreement.
Smith admitted the players were relieved to avoid having a tiring journey to the Caribbean and was more than happy to finish their campaign in front of their own supporters.
“It is a plus to play at home, it is always a plus to play at home when you look at the comforts that come along with this,” said Smith. “On the road you sleep in hotels and, no disrespect to the rest of the Caribbean, but we don’t get treated the same when we travel opposed to when they come here so this is good for us.
“I don’t like going on the road in these circumstances but we don’t have to worry about that now and can focus on the games that are coming up.”
The 30-year-old insists Bermuda’s final two qualifying matches are certainly not meaningless considering two wins could catapult them into the top 100 of the FIFA world rankings.
Bermuda were the biggest movers in the global ranking ladder last month, jumping up 57 places in the competitive pecking order from 189 to 132.
A draw against group leaders Guyana and a shock 2-1 win over Trinidad and Tobago have the Island approaching their best-ever spot of 84th, achieved back in 1993.
“The games aren’t meaningless in terms of the long term goals for us, yes the World Cup qualifying campaign is over but we can look toward the Digicel Cup and the Gold Cup as well as things we can enter and compete in,” said Smith.
“Two wins against Barbados should get us into the top half of the Caribbean countries and make us a team to be reckoned with in the Caribbean, and it feels good to have people coming up to us (players) and saying how proud they are.
Digicel Caribbean Cup will be played in June and July next year, with Bermuda already having one eye on the competition, sitting 19th in the Caribbean standings out of 35 countries.
And Smith said it was important they picked a pair of wins against the Bajan Tridents to carry on their momentum.
“These games aren’t meaningless in terms of the long term goals for us, yes the World Cup qualifying campaign is over but we can look toward the Digicel Caribbean Cup and the Gold Cup as well as things we can enter and compete in,” he said.
“It is pleasing to see that we have jumped in the FIFA rankings and it is an incentive to make further inroads, when you look at the rankings and see Bermuda at 170 or 180 that doesn’t do us any justice because the countries ahead of us I’m sure we can beat,” he said.
“We just need to carry the momentum from our previous two games and look to hit the ground running come the weekend.
“This group understands what needs to be done and that the bigger picture isn’t always about the World Cup per say, there are other tournaments that we can get into to prepare for the future.”
“It could also be a good time to bring a few of the younger players and give them a chance to showcase what they can bring to the table.”
Bermuda take on Barbados tomorrow at 3pm, and Monday, November 14 at 8pm.
For tickets visit www.bermudafa.com or www.flytix.com. Prices are as follows: Grandstand $25; general seating $15; children under-12 (general seating) $10, seniors (general seating $10).