Jonte keen to impress against England
Jonte Smith is relishing the opportunity to make his senior national team debut against England ‘C’ at the National Sports Centre (NSC) next Tuesday (7:30pm).
The Crawley Town striker has been named in Bermuda’s 18-strong squad that also boasts fellow overseas pros Dale Eve (Stoke City), Reggie Lambe (Toronto FC) and Taurean Manders (Antigua Barracudas).
Smith, 18, says he hopes to make the most of the opportunity if given a chance to showcase his budding skills in front of the home crowd.
“I’m definitely excited about potentially playing for my country for the first time in front of my home crowd,” he told
The Royal Gazette. “It’s got to be everyone’s dream playing for your country in front of your home fans and everyone is supporting you, especially in a big game playing against an England national team.
“I’m definitely looking to make an impression first of all in front of the home fans. I want them to see what progress I’ve made since the last time they probably saw me play and I definitely want to make a good impression on the foreign team that’s coming.”
Last season saw Smith make a handful of first team appearances as a sub for League One side Crawley Town. He also banged in 24 goals, including two hat-tricks, in 19 appearances during a prolific loan spell at Ryman Premier League side Metropolitan Police.
It is this form which the teenage striker hopes to reproduce against the visitors at the NSC next week.
“You always want to perform well and make people remember you,” he said. “I always feel I need to play at my best because if I’m not playing at my best then I’m disappointed.”
Bermuda’s squad is blended with youth and experienced players such as skipper John Barry Nusum, Damon Ming and Domico Coddington who know a thing or two about international football.
“I think this is one of the strongest teams we have had in quite a number of years with just the fact there are about seven players (from) overseas,” said Bermuda Football Association (BFA) First Vice-President Cal Blankendal.
“The team is being led by Mr John Barry Nusum who is also a former semi-pro. We also have Damon Ming who actually played for Barnet who are being led by Mr Paul Fairclough who is the director for the England ‘C’ team. We also have Freddie Hall who was just recently at Toronto FC. So out of a squad of 18 there are probably 11 players that have played pro or are playing pro.”
Smith also rates Bermuda’s squad highly.
“I’ve trained with the team for the past month and been very impressed, there’s definitely talented players in Bermuda,” he said. “We have an objective and if we execute the objective there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to win.
“It’s definitely going to be physical and hopefully we can come out on top. I’m hoping all of the players are up for it, which I’m sure they are.”
Blankendal reminded senior national squad members that it is an “honour” to play for one’s country.
“It’s always an honour to play for your national team,” he said. “We are not the highest ranking team but we are a part of FIFA and CFU and anytime you can represent your country at the highest level at any event it’s an honour for the individual, players, family and the association.”
Blankendal also urged the public to rally behind the senior national squad who are being coached by Andrew Bascome and assistant Dennis Brown.
“We need individuals to come to the National Sports Centre to support our team,” he said. “The more individuals that come out, the team feels the atmosphere and we can also look at our return and make every effort to make more home international matches as possible.”
Bermuda: John Nusum (capt), Freddie Hall, Dale Eve, Roger Lee, Ashton Bell, Jason Davis, Dante Leverock, Taurean Manders, Tyrell Burgess, Keishen Bean, Damon Ming, Drewonde Bascome, Tre Ming, Reggie Lambe, Domico Coddington, Lejaun Simmons, Jonte Smith, Antwan Russell. Stand by: Angelo Simmons, Dominique Williams, Daniel Johnson.