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Bascome: I’d have loved a crack at Nations League

Big opportunity: Andrew Bascome, the former Bermuda coach, believes the Concacaf Nations League will help improve the domestic game(Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Andrew Bascome admits he would have loved to have led Bermuda into the Concacaf Nations League had the competition been launched during his coaching tenure.

Bascome, however, has no regrets about stepping down in August after five years in charge and believes his assistant Kyle Lightbourne is the right man to take Bermuda into the new tournament.

As part of the Nations League, Bermuda could play up to 36 international matches over the course of a four-year cycle — a seismic shift for a country which has historically struggled for games.

Bermuda will play four qualifying matches this year, against Sint Maarten and El Salvador at home and Aruba and Dominican Republic away, to determine the groups for the Nations League, which starts in September 2019.

Bascome, who led Bermuda in a World Cup qualifying campaign and two Caribbean Cups, says a lack of competitive action was a major source of frustration during his time at the helm. “It would have been fantastic [to coach Bermuda in the Nations League],” Bascome said.

“I’m quite happy, though, because I think I did the best I could do at the time. I’m now trying to be a coaching educator. I think I can have a positive influence.

“Kyle has the support of Maurice [Lowe, the BFA technical development director] and we have enough B licence coaches on his staff to help the operation.”

Although all matches will be played during Fifa international dates, to determine the Nations League’s three divisions, it remains to be seen whether all of Bermuda’s top players will make themselves available.

It is a problem Bascome experienced all too often during his spell as coach. He had to do without Nahki Wells, his captain and most influential player, after the striker made himself unavailable for crucial World Cup qualifying ties against Guatemala and an entire Caribbean Cup campaign.

“That was a frustration, but you have to adapt or die,” Bascome said. “Sometimes a player isn’t released by his club and sometimes it’s the player who doesn’t want to come back and play. Maybe they think it’s too far of a drop off from the professional level. You have to help the local player, raise the standard of play and give them an opportunity.”

Given the number of players based overseas, playing professionally or semi-professionally — such as Wells, Willie Clemons, Danté Leverock, Jonté Smith and Djair Parfitt-Williams — Bascome is urging Bermuda’s local-based players to rise to the challenge.

“[The Nations League] should give the local-based players more incentive, but it comes down to the players,” Bascome said.

“It’s important to build the local game because the BFA [Bermuda Football Association] operates off the local player. Hopefully the local players take advantage of the Nations League and stop making excuses.

“[The Nations League] will keep the players involved, give them a focus throughout the season and give them something to aspire to. It’s a good thing for Bermudian football.”

Jacques Crevoisier believes the Nations League should be a huge motivation for the domestic players but says the national programme’s pool of players will have to expand to cope with the inevitable squad withdrawals.

“I remember when Andrew was the national coach and was doing all of his training sessions with the subs,” said Crevoisier, who visited the island to run a C licence equivalent coaching course last week.

“There are players abroad and that you cannot change. What you must try to do is have the best possible team for the biggest competitions.

“You may need 25 to 28 players instead of 16 and develop those players who are still on the island.”

Bermuda are scheduled to play friendly matches against Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados in the Caribbean this month.

They will play Antigua and Barbuda on March 21 before facing Barbados on March 25

Bermuda squandered a 2-0 lead in 3-2 home defeat to Barbados in their previous outing at the National Stadium last October.