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Caribbean Cup an exciting prospect for Wade

Bermuda have been pitted against Cuba and French Guiana in group three of the first-round qualifiers of the Caribbean Cup.

The first round, featuring home and away legs, will be played between March 21 and 29, with the top two teams of the seven groups, plus the next best team, advancing to the second round to be played in May.

Jamaica, Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago were exempt from Saturday's draw in Antigua because of their involvement in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers.

Mark Wade, the Bermuda Football Association vice-president, said the Caribbean Cup was a competition Bermuda were determined to do well in.

“We're excited about the tournament and we're looking to do well,” Wade said. “Our goal is to be one of the best teams in the Caribbean.

“It's a home and away series and David Sabir [the BFA general secretary] will be talking to the general secretaries of Cuba and French Guiana to organise when those matches will be.”

All qualifying dates will take place on Fifa calendar dates, which means Bermuda will have the availability of their top players Nahki Wells, Rai Simons and Reggie Lambe, whose clubs are obliged to release them for international duty.

Wade acknowledged the difficulties in assembling a squad of players, considering so many are based overseas at professional clubs, academies and colleges.

“It's difficult because we have so many of our players overseas, so we will have to put together preparations that will help us do the best we can,” added Wade, who also coaches Premier Division side PHC Zebras.

“We're just waiting for the plan from Maurice Lowe [the BFA technical development director] and head coach [Andrew Bascome].

“We'll have some discussions with the professional players to see where they sit, but I know the coach wants to have them available in order to have our strongest team.

“That's always a delicate conversation but we'll have it. We also hope March is a good time for our college players to return from their studies.”

The third round of the qualifiers will be held in October, the fifth-place play-off in November, with the finals to take place in May 2017.

The top four Caribbean nations will qualify for the next year's Concacaf Gold Cup, which will be held from July 9 to 30.

Bermuda's national team have not competed in the Caribbean Cup since 2012 when Bascome's side, without several of their key players, failed to qualify from their group, losing 2-1 to Puerto Rico, 3-1 to host nation Haiti before finishing off with an 8-0 thrashing of St Martin.

In the other groups, Antigua and Barbuda will face St Kitts & Nevis and Aruba in group 1, St Maarten and the US Virgin Islands have been grouped with Grenada in group 2, while Barbados, Curaçao and Dominican Republic will compete in group 4.

Guyana, the seeded team in group 5, face Puerto Rico and Anguilla, while in group 6, Guadeloupe take on St Martin and Suriname.

Martinique, British Virgin Islands and Dominica round out the draw, which was based on Caribbean Football Union rankings, in group 7.

The first round is due to be played between March 21 and 29, with the second round, featuring 15 teams, taking place from May 15 to 21.

The third round, will take place in October, when Jamaica, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago join the competition.

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Published January 18, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 18, 2016 at 12:28 am)

Caribbean Cup an exciting prospect for Wade

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