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Bermuda facing mountain to climb against US

Coach Aaron Denkins watches his Bermuda Under-17 team play against the national Under-15 boys' side last week at the Clyde Best Centre of Excellence. Pictured is the under-17 captain Danni Watson(Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

The odds are stacked heavily against Bermuda when they face the United States in the Concacaf Women’s Under-17 Championship in Bradenton, Florida, at the IMG Academy Stadium tonight.

Bermuda lost their opening group B match 3-0 to Canada, while the US beat Costa Rica 4-0 in Nicaragua last month before violence in the Central American country forced the remainder of the tournament to be rescheduled.

It will be the first meeting between Bermuda and the US in the Concacaf women’s under-17 age group. The match starts at 6pm Bermuda time.

The US are three-times Concacaf Women’s Under-17 champions with a perfect 8-0 record against Caribbean opposition, conceding just two goals, against Trinidad and Tobago in 2008 and Jamaica in 2016.

However, in LeiLanni Nesbeth, Bermuda have a striker who can penetrate tough defences, as she demonstrated last year when she was the top scorer at the Caribbean qualifiers.

Other key members of Bermuda’s team are captain Danni Watson in defence and Trinae Edwards, who travelled with the senior team to Guyana for the Concacaf Women’s Championship last month, along with Jaden Masters and Nia Christopher, who will support England-based Nesbeth in attack.

The US have conceded just two goals in their last 21 Concacaf women’s under-17 matches, winning 24 of 26 and scoring 141 goals while conceded just five. They have kept clean sheets in 21 of the 26 matches and have never conceded more than one goal in a game.

They also have also scored 11 goals in their previous three games — a 5-0 win over Canada, 2-1 victory over Mexico and 4-0 win over Costa Rica where three of the four goals were headers.

Bermuda have been forced to make one change from the squad which travelled to Nicaragua five weeks ago. Katelyn Mederios is unavailable because of school commitments and has been replaced by Che Chulae Dowling.

Bermuda, who are coached by Aaron Denkins, will take on Costa Rica in their final group match on Friday.

The top two teams from each group will advance to the semi-finals, with the winners and winner of the third-place play-off match qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup to be held in Uruguay from November 13 to December 1.