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El Salvador wary of Bermuda threat

El Salvador Football Team. Bran Tamacas (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Carlos de los Cobos, the El Salvador coach, has played down his team’s favourites’ tag for their Concacaf Nations League qualifier against Bermuda, insisting: “Both teams are equal.”

De los Cobos’s side have made an encouraging start to the Nations League, defeating Montserrat and Barbados, but he expects Bermuda to be a far tougher proposition, particularly in front of their home support.

The former Mexico midfielder said he was impressed with Bermuda during their 12-0 victory at home to Sint Maarten last month and was mindful of the islanders’ attacking threat.

Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, has labelled El Salvador as favourites based on their historical superiority, lofty regional Fifa ranking, although De los Cobos has a different view.

“I don’t think a favourite exists,” De los Cobos told The Royal Gazette. “All coaches always say the same! The teams are very equal.

“We know we will need to work hard because Bermuda are very strong. We always respect our opponents and I thought Bermuda played very well [against Sint Maarten].

“Nahki Wells is a very good player and they have two or three other very good players. We need to be extremely focused on these kind of players.”

De los Cobos, a former coach of Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire, says his young side will need to marry their individual flair with disciplined defending if they are to maintain a perfect record in the competition.

“Our players have good technique and a strong mentality,” he said. “We have prepared for this game with a lot of intensity because we know Bermuda are a good team. We will need to play with a lot of order and use our strengths and qualities, and play with the ball at our feet.

“We don’t have too much professional experience and it’s a young squad. They know the importance of being part of this team because in El Salvador the fans have a great intensity for this sport.”

De los Cobos took charge of El Salvador in May, having previously coached the country from 2006 to 2009. His team occupy the tenth and final qualifying position for the Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States next year. Bermuda are five places below, having lost to Aruba in their opener before thrashing Sint Maarten.

“The Gold Cup is our objective,” De los Cobos said. “It won’t be easy. We have two more difficult games, against Bermuda and then Jamaica at home.”

El Salvador knocked Bermuda out of the World Cup qualifiers in 2004, winning 2-1 at home before drawing 2-2 at the National Stadium.