Attack best form of defence for Bascome
Andrew Bascome will make at least one change to his Bermuda team for the second leg of their World Cup qualifying first-round tie against Bahamas tomorrow.
The Bermuda head coach is expected to tinker with his formation slightly, with Nahki Wells spearheading the attack. Wells played in a deeper role in the first leg in Nassau on Wednesday, operating just behind Rai Simons, but Bascome is keen to push him further forward and may leave Simons out to accommodate that change.
Even though the tie is all but over there has been no thought given to sitting back against Bahamas — the conservative approach is not in Bascome's nature — and another creative midfielder could be added to the starting line-up.
Keishen Bean, who came on as a substitute in the first leg, may start, as could midfielder Reggie Lambe if he recovers from the hamstring strain that kept him out of the first game.
While Bahamas have already voiced their intention to attack Bermuda through the middle, and are likely to adopt a more direct approach than they did at home, Bascome probably feels that leaving out Tre Ming, the defensive midfielder, is a risk he can afford to take.
Despite winning comfortably on Wednesday, however, Bermuda were less than convincing defensively, with Lesly St Fleur finding plenty of open space on the right wing and his pace causing Jalen Harvey plenty of problems out wide.
Harvey erred on several occasions in not pushing St Fleur inside, but even when he did so there was little in the way of the double coverage that Bascome's system requires to keep the defence solid.
Bascome is aware of all of this, as is Dion Godet, the Bahamas coach, and the visiting side are expected to throw everything forward in a game where they have nothing to lose.
Godet, however, will be without two of his main attacking threats, St Fleur and Nesly Jean, both of whom are in the Bahamas Beach Soccer squad for the Concacaf Championships, which begin in El Salvador today. In their absence, Ian Winder and Christopher Larson could start upfront, with Winder operating as a target man and Larson just off his shoulder.
At the back, Bahamas also have issues, with Happy Hall, the left back, suspended after picking up a red card for a foul on Wells, while Duane Beneby was horribly exposed at right back by Zeiko Lewis and may find himself on the bench tomorrow.
Bermuda's impressive 5-0 advantage from the first leg, combined with Peter Dunne's rallying call for fans to get behind the team, are two of the contributing factors in strong ticket sales over the past couple of days for the return match at the National Stadium.
The Bermuda Football Association was yesterday swamped with calls for tickets and it is expected that the stadium will be sold out with only online tickets available today.
The last time such a scramble for tickets occurred was in 2008 when Bermuda played Trinidad & Tobago in a World Cup qualifying return leg after a shock 2-1 win in Port of Spain.
Then people were lining up outside the BFA office in an attempt to get tickets.
Dunne, the president of the Bermuda Bicycle Association, urged other sports bodies and the general public to rally behind the team as they seek passage into the second round where they will play Guatemala.
“After today if any tickets are available they will be available online,” David Sabir, the BFA general secretary, said. “No tickets will be sold at the gate.
“I'm happy for Bermuda, the team that they will have the support and we encourage the fans to make a lot of noise. Let's make it a festive atmosphere.”
•Additional reporting by