Lightbourne to ring changes for Haiti clash
Bermuda are expected to make as many as five changes to their line-up for today’s Caribbean Under-20 Championship clash with host nation Haiti.
Kyle Lightbourne, the team’s coach, has been forced to tweak his squad from the one that beat Cayman Islands 3-0 on Wednesday because of the warmer climate in the Caribbean island that has taken its toll on some of his players.
“There are no injury worries ahead of our match with Haiti,” Lightbourne said. “But we will be making changes because some guys really felt the heat in the match against Cayman Islands and we need fresh legs. We are looking at four to five changes.”
Bermuda had things all their own way in their opening group four match against the Cayman Islands. Liam Evans, the team’s captain, led the charge with a brace while Jaz Ratteray-Smith, the Somerset Trojans winger, grabbed the other.
Lightbourne expects hosts Haiti, fresh off a 8-0 win over Anguilla, to provide a tougher test for his side.
“Tactically Haiti are very good and keep the ball so it’s going to be a difficult game for us,” he said. “We have to stay organised and patient, try and keep it as tight as possible and take our opportunities.
“Haiti have some quick guys that we have to be prepared for. We know they are going to try to get their full backs overlapping, so we will try and hit them in those areas when their full backs go forward.”
Lightbourne intends to play with the same 4-5-1 formation against the tournament hosts.
“We are going to play the same formation that we played against Cayman Islands so we will have the same shape,” he said. “We played with two holding midfielders and so we are going to pretty much play the same way but with different personnel.”
Today’s match between Bermuda and Haiti will likely determine the group winner.
“It’s still very hot but we will be playing at a later time which is 6.30pm Haiti time, 8.30pm Bermuda time,” Lightbourne said. “The sun will just be disappearing at that point, so it will help us in a sense.”
The ongoing tournament is the first phase of qualifying for the next Under-20 World Cup to be held in South Korea between May and June 2017.
The first three groups have already been decided with Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad and Tobago finishing top to advance to the final round to be in held in Curaçao in October.
The best three runners-up from the four groups will also qualify. Saint Lucia have already secured their stage passage, having taken seven points from their three games, while Cuba and Dominican Republic both finished on six points.
It is likely that Bermuda’s fate will come down to their final game against Anguilla, who Haiti beat 8-0 on Wednesday. With Cuba’s goal difference plus-five, and Dominican Republic’s plus-three, Lightbourne’s side will at least know the size of the task they face ahead of their final game.