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Local players must rise to challenge, says Bascome

Andrew Bascome has challenged his Bermuda-based players to stake a claim for the Caribbean Cup squad after admitting there has been an overreliance on the island's overseas professionals.

Bermuda's 18-man squad leave for St Kitts and Nevis today where they will play warm-up games against the Caribbean island's under-20 side tomorrow in Charlestown and senior team on Sunday at the Warner Park Stadium in Basseterre.

With Nahki Wells, the team's captain, and fellow England-based professionals Reggie Lambe, Rai Simons and Dale Eve unable to make the trip, the travelling squad includes almost entirely Premier Division players.

Bascome, the Bermuda head coach, accepts it is unrealistic to expect the professional players to put Bermuda above their club careers for a training trip, and is keen to learn whether the local-based contingent can rise to the challenge in their absence.

Among the newcomers named in Bascome's squad are William White, the Somerset Trojans midfielder, North Village forward Pierre Smith and Na'eem Griffith, the PHC Zebras defender.

“I've always said we needed a strong group of home-based players,” Bascome said.

“We can't keep relying on the overseas-based players because they have their job security issues, too.

“It's not like they're Messi or Ronaldo who can go and play for their countries and be guaranteed a starting place at their clubs when they return.

“Bermuda's professionals are in a funny position, but we must be able to put enough investment in the local players so we can at least maintain a certain standard.”

Several players have caught Bascome's eye during the Premier Division season, with the former Devonshire Cougars coach looking forward to running the rule over exciting Dandy Town pair Tomiko Goater and Jahnazae Swan in St Kitts.

Both players have impressed for the league leaders, with 20-year-old Goater topping the scoring charts with ten goals, while Swan, 18, will be hoping for another taste of international football after making his debut in a friendly at home to Grenada in March last year.

“You have the little boy Goater and his Dandy Town team-mate Jahnazae who both suit our philosophy with their wiry builds and good technical ability,” said Bascome, whose coaching staff includes Kyle Lightbourne as assistant coach and Maurice Lowe, the technical development director.

“Then you have Drewonde [Bascome] who is playing some pretty good football and the Dandy Town goalkeeper, Mikkail Crockwell, who is having a good season.

“I've always said the emphasis has to be on the local-based players. If we get the likes of Nahki, Dale and Reggie it's a bonus. You cannot prepare for these matches hoping they're going to be there.

“You have to go with what you've got and make the necessary adjustments, tactically, to make sure you get a good performance.”

Bascome believes St Kitts, who are 40 places above Bermuda in the Fifa world rankings in 118th position, will provide a good test for his side ahead of their first-round qualifiers away to Cuba on March 22 and at home to French Guiana four days later.

Bermuda and St Kitts previously met in two World Cup qualifying warm-up games at the National Stadium in December 2007.

The home side, under the stewardship of Keith Tucker, lost the first encounter 2-1 before defeating the visiting side 4-1, courtesy of a Aljame Zuill hat-trick.

“Our football history is deeper than St Kitts' but we cannot underestimate them or the desire they have to play for their country,” Bascome added.

“It doesn't matter how much talent we have if we don't match their desire and their commitment.”

Photograph by Akil Simmons Opportunity knocks: Bascome wants the island-based players to stake a claim for the Caribbean Cup squad during their warm-up trip to St Kitts

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Published February 18, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated February 17, 2016 at 10:07 pm)

Local players must rise to challenge, says Bascome

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