Bermuda’s fate taken out of their hands
Bermuda's Caribbean Under-17 Championship qualifying fate hangs in the balance after yesterday's 1-1 stalemate with eventual group winners Martinique at Roscow R.L. Davies Stadium in Nassau, Bahamas.
Bermuda entered their final group match needing to beat Martinique to secure the sole automatic qualifying spot up for grabs and they appeared to be on course for achieving their primary objective after Oneko Lowe provided Bermuda with an early lead.
However, a defensive blunder enabled Martinique to grab a share of the spoils and automatic qualification to the next stage of the competition.
Bermuda came close to regaining the lead in the dying stages of the match. But Azende Furbert's effort dipped on to the bar just seconds before the final whistle.
Once again, missed opportunities came back to haunt Bermuda, who carved out openings but lacked the finishing touch.
Bermuda took the match to their opponents from the kick-off and nearly grabbed the lead in the third minute when Amar Lewis had the ball blocked at his feet by the onrushing goalkeeper after being played through.
Bermuda threatened again two minutes later when Lowe served a goal on a platter for Judah Chapman, who completely miskicked the ball when scoring seemed easier.
However, there would be no denying Bermuda in the seventh minute as Lowe intercepted a poor back-pass to the goalkeeper and forced the ball over the line.
Lowe came close to doubling Bermuda's lead and his goal tally in the fifteenth minute when he shot wide with only the goalkeeper to beat after being fed by Osagi Bascome.
Bermuda were made to rue that missed opportunity as they conceded their first goal of the tournament in the 20th minute after Martinique capitalised on a defensive error.
Undeterred, Bermuda threatened to regain the lead with Furbert lifting substitute Jerome Bailey's cross over the bar and Lowe having another effort saved by the goalkeeper.
Bermuda continued to create openings after the break only to be let done by poor finishing.
Substitute Aaron Burgess had the ball cleared by the goalkeeper after hesitating to pick his spot, an inviting Bascome free kick went untouched in the area and Furbert had an attempt saved by the goalkeeper.
Bermuda came to within inches on snatching the win with virtually the last throw of the dice when Furbert struck the woodwork from a set-piece moments before the referee blew the final whistle to end a match in which water breaks were taken midway through each half because of sweltering conditions in excess of 90F.
Bermuda completed the group stage unbeaten with five points and a goal difference of plus four and will hope that the runners-up from the groups one and two are not better. Five group winners and the two best runners-up, as well as hosts Haiti, advance to the finals in September. The top two will then represent the region at the Under-17 World Cup in Chile next year.