The best is yet to come, says Burgess
Shannon Burgess praised the Bermuda squad's “sense of maturity” at the Concacaf Under-20 Championship and believes that the future is bright for football on the island.
The Bermuda Football Association first vice-president and former Bermuda captain believes that significant progress is being made — at senior and junior national levels — and pointed to the island's qualification for the tournament in Costa Rica as a shining example.
Burgess has kept close tabs on the under-20 squad and is encouraged by the steady strides that they have made, which he believes augurs well for the senior team in years to come.
“We have been looking at this age group for a while and sensed that something special would come out of this team,” Burgess said.
“The mere fact they're actually at this tournament with the powerhouses of the region is one victory.
“A lot of these guys are probably playing at this age group for the first time and they are playing against perhaps more experienced players and Bermuda should be absolutely proud of them.
“We are here and we are competing at this stage and it bodes well to see that all of the work that has been put in on the field and administratively over the last few years is starting to bear fruit.
“We have some talent there and this team here is the feeder into the national team and so to have our under-20s and our national team doing good things is a good sign for Bermuda.
“We expect big things and I am excited about the national team set-up.”
Burgess attended Bermuda's opening 1-1 draw against Trinidad and Tobago at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa on Sunday.
“I got a chance to go in the changing room before the game and the spirits were high,” Burgess said.
“The team seemed very relaxed for what was at stake and I was impressed with that. It shows a sense of maturity.
“Taking control against a country such as Trinidad in a tournament such as this is very impressive and the one or two chances we got early could have defined the match.
“But the boys did very well to fight back.
‘They kept their composure and showed passion to come back and equalise.”
The former Devonshire Colts and Bermuda centre back was particularly pleased with Bermuda's defensive display against Trinidad.
“Looking at the match as a defender, I was very impressed with our defensive shape to the point where it never looked like they were going to break us down,” Burgess said.
“But they got that one chance and put it away and it kind of changed the dynamic of the match.
“I was very pleased with the skipper [Liam Evans] to take responsibility to go and play centre back against a team that was now looking to attack.
“To lose both of your centre backs [Zenawi Bowen and Tahzeiko Harris] is rare, and so the fact the team was still able to keep their shape despite being in a pickle in that regard was pleasing to see.”