Manders hopes to be ‘Mr Dependable’
Taurean Manders hopes to be an influential cog in Bermuda’s machine during this year’s World Cup qualifying campaign after insisting that he can become coach Andrew Bascome’s “Mr Dependable”.
Manders, who has been named in Bascome’s 54-man training squad for the qualifiers, believes his “no frills” approach to the game and versatility offers an important counterbalance to the team’s abundance of attacking flair players.
The 28-year-old was arguably Bermuda’s most consistent performer during the previous qualifying campaign in 2011, deployed as a holding midfielder by then coach Devarr Boyles, and is confident he can fulfil a similar role under Bascome.
“To be honest, I don’t think my game has changed much since 2011; I’m still a busy player who covers plenty of ground, breaks up play and likes to play it simple,” Manders, who played under Bascome at the 2012 Digicel Caribbean Cup in Haiti, said.
“I try to keep the game flowing and I guess I’m just a little more direct now.”
Manders, who has been living in Southampton for a number of years, where his cricketing brother Tre Manders attends a sports academy, said that he remains as passionate about playing for his country as he did when he made his debut under Kyle Lightbourne ten years ago.
“I always get excited about playing international football,” Manders said. “I’m still as motivated as ever. The coaching staff pick the team and if I’m included I’ll just try to help the team by doing what I do. Hopefully I’m as good or better than I was during the last [World Cup qualifying] campaign.”
It has been a difficult season for Manders at English non-League side Sholing, who play in the Southern Football Division One South & West.
Having played the majority of his football in North America in the United Soccer Leagues’ Pro and Premier Development League as well as the Canadian Soccer League, Manders admits that it has taken him time to acclimatise to the English game.
“It’s been an up and down season,” said Manders, who suffered relegation last season with Bashley, who dropped into the Southern Football Division One South & West, the same league as Sholing.
“I started off on the fringe of the team and finally made my way into the starting line-up, but then there was a change of managers and I had to start all over again.
“The style of play in the English lower leagues is a bit different than what I am used to. It’s a lot more direct and the defending is no-nonsense.
“I have played in centre midfield but I’ve mostly played at right back or left back. I’ve always moved around, so that’s nothing new for me. It’s more like a battle than actually football at times and it’s taken me a while to adapt. I still am a bit, actually.”
The World Cup qualifiers are scheduled for March, with Bermuda, who are in pot H, to be drawn against one of the teams in pot I; Turks and Caicos, Curacao, US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Anguilla.
Bermuda to discover fate, page 21