Battling Bermuda earn respect
Bermuda 1 Australia 4
Bermuda Under-20 could take significant positives from their defeat against Australia in the opening game at the Glenn “Mooch” Myernick Field in Carson, California, yesterday.
Don Vickers' side, a late addition to the four-team tournament, gave as good as they got against their more decorated opponents, trailing Australia by just a solitary goal until added time when a tired-looking Bermuda shipped two goals. It was Lejaun Simons, one of several overage players in the travelling squad, who first tested the Australia goalkeeper with a strike from distance that flew just over the crossbar.
At the other end, Australia were causing a few problems of their own with a forward striking the crossbar with Jahquille Hill, the Mansfield Town Academy goalkeeper, well beaten.
With the game being played at a frantic pace, Bermuda were largely camped inside their own half and struggling to maintain possession of the ball.
It was therefore no surprise when Australia took the lead on 23 minutes, although Bermuda refused to wilt and drew level just before half time when an Australia defender diverted the ball into his own net.
Bermuda made an encouraging start to the second half, showing a far greater attacking threat and urgency, but they were punished for sloppily losing possession in the middle of the park on 54 minutes with Australia adding a second.
Both Rai Simons, the Ilkeston striker, and Zeiko Lewis, the Young Men's Social Club winger, forced saves from the Australia goalkeeper as Bermuda, who made their full quota of six substitutions, gamely pushed for an equaliser.
But their opponent's superior strength and conditioning told at the death, with Bermuda conceding twice during added time.
The bulk of Bermuda's 20-man squad is made up of the under-20 team that suffered a disappointing World Cup qualifying campaign in the Dominican Republic recently, failing to reach next month's final Caribbean round.
With head coach Dennis Brown unavailable for the trip because of work commitments, Vickers, the former Wolves and X-Road's coach, has been handed the coaching duties with Khano Smith, the former MLS player, serving as his assistant.
Included in Australia's squad was Daniel De Silva, the Perth Glory midfielder, who signed for Roma for an undisclosed fee last month with a view to joining the Serie A side at the start of the 2015-16 season.
Bermuda take on Chile tomorrow and the hosts US on Friday.