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Village optimistic heading into CFU championships

Utility defender Devrae Tankard is cautiously optimistic Noth Village can top their group to qualify for the next stage of the CFU Club Championships.

The Rams head to Cayman Islands today where they play first round Group One games against two home teams, George Town Sports Club and Elite Sports Club, at the TE McField Playing Field.

While Tankard accepts Village have the odds stacked against them, considering they are playing in both sides' backyard, he is confident the 2010 Premier Division champions can advance to the next stage.

“We feel very confident although we don't have too much of an idea what we're up against,” said Tankard. “It won't be easy, it will be very tough and perhaps the odds will be against us as we're playing in both our opponents' home patch. Home advantage is a big, big plus as we experienced in the World Cup qualifiers with the national team.

“When we went down to Trinidad and Guyana it was a totally different mentality than when we played at the National Sports Centre with the fans behind you. It's always a lot tougher when you play away from home.”

The best runners-up from Groups One, Two and Three will also progress to the second round, but Tankard insists Village won't be looking for favours from any other team.

“We're not even looking at the best runner-up: that's not our target at all as we're not looking for favours from anybody,” he said. “If we do our part then we will be fine, although we're going to be almost perfect to get the results we need.”

Village have their full quota of players to pick from, including Canada-based forward Keishen Bean, many of whom have considerable experience of playing overseas for both the national team and Bermuda Hogges.

And Tankard, who turned out for Bermuda at last year's World Cup qualifiers, believes there's more than enough quality in Village's ranks to get the job done.

“We expect to have a good showing, the team is made up of players who have plenty of international experience at some stage of their career,” he said.

“It's encouraging to see we have all of our best players available and that's gives us belief that things will work out.”

While historically one of the Island's most successful clubs, Village have never ventured into the CFU Club Championships, the region's premier club tournament, which the Bermuda Football Association decided to re-enter two years ago after a lengthy absence.

In terms of player development, Tankard believes it's crucial for the Island's domestic champions to be given the opportunity to play in the Championships as they provide a platform to the higher level.

“We feel privileged to be the first group of players to lead Village into the Caribbean, which is kind of surprising considering our rich history,” said Tankard.

“International competition at any level is important for Bermuda football whether it be the national team, Bermuda Hogges or the CFU Club Championships.

“If any one of those three are taken away then the motivational levels of Bermudian players will decrease, and a platform to go to the next level will be lost.

“All three of those are important in their own right and have their merit and none of them should be overvalued.”

Village, who celebrated their 55th anniversary this year, are the third club to represent Bermuda in the Caribbean in recent years after Dandy Town and Devonshire Cougars. Rams take on George Town Sports Club on Sunday and Elite Sports Club on March 28.

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Published March 23, 2012 at 2:00 am (Updated March 23, 2012 at 9:26 am)

Village optimistic heading into CFU championships

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