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Lightbourne: Players did country proud

Shock start: Lowe, No 7, celebrates his first-half goal that had Bermuda dreaming (Photograph by Victor Straffon)

Kyle Lightbourne said his players “did our country proud” after bowing out at the group stage of the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica.

Bermuda lost 2-1 to the host nation in their final group match at the Estadio Nacional on Saturday, but only after Oneko Lowe stunned the Ticos in front of their own fans by pouncing on a loose goal kick to give Bermuda a first-half lead.

“I am really proud of my guys and the work that they put in, the commitment that they showed for their country,” Lightbourne said. “I felt the guys gave it their all and did our country proud.

“I’m disappointed about the result of course but I think we gave everything and left it on the pitch. Yes, we can play better and we know that, but we worked hard.”

Bermuda needed to win their final group C match by two clear goals after Trinidad and Tobago shocked group winners El Salvador 2-1 in the preceding match at the same venue.

It was a task that proved beyond their reach despite another gutsy display after Lightbourne’s side drew with Trinidad and lost to El Salvador in their previous group games.

“Today was probably our toughest game after the result beforehand with Trinidad winning against El Salvador,” Lightbourne said.

“We knew it was going to be a difficult task for us but I said to the guys that I am very pleased with them.

“They didn’t give in and we showed tremendous fitness in that game as I saw Costa Rica players pulling up with cramp while we just kept going.

“I thought Liam [captain Liam Evans] was outstanding. For us to lose three defensive players the day before leaving Bermuda and then for Liam and Kacy-Milan [Butterfield] to drop into centre back and play — I thought they were fantastic.”

Lightbourne admitted that Costa Rica were the superior team on the day.

“For us as a little country — and this is not an excuse — this has been a growing experience,” the Bermuda Under-20 coach said. “This level was very, very hard for us and I think we managed.

“When it comes down to looking at the goals, we have conceded on average two goals a game and it’s like five of them are just individual mistakes that we can easily correct.

“I feel for the guys that did not get a game. It just wasn’t their turn this time but I am really proud of my guys and the work that they put in.”