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De los Cobos surprised by Bermuda’s spirit

Dale Eve, the Bermuda goalkeeper, made a crucial save for Bermuda (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Carlos de los Cobos, the El Salvador coach, was left ruing his side’s missed chances but heaped praise on Bermuda, saying they looked like a different team from their previous matches.

De los Cobos prepared for his team’s Concacaf Nations League qualifier by analysing Bermuda’s previous outings against Aruba and Sint Maarten and said he knew they carried an attacking threat. He was, however, surprised by Bermuda’s fighting spirit and defensive resilience during their 1-0 win.

“I have to congratulate Bermuda because they played well and fought all of the time,” De los Cobos said. “They have some very good players. I saw Bermuda in their last two matches [a 3-1 defeat away to Aruba and a 12-0 win at home to Sint Maarten] and they looked very different tonight.”

Both teams improved after a difficult first half in which they struggled to get to grips with the torrential rain and windy conditions at the National Stadium. It was the visiting side who created the better chances after the break, with substitute Andrés Flores firing wide before Gerson Mayen hit the crossbar after being ruled offside.

The Central Americans continued to threaten the Bermuda defence, superbly marshalled by captain Danté Leverock, and on the few occasions they managed to breach the backline, goalkeeper Dale Eve was there to deny them.

Denis Pineda squandered his side’s best opportunity after a sloppy pass from Donte Brangman gave him a free run on goal. The outrushing Eve reacted quickly to thwart the danger by blocking Pineda’s effort with his legs.

At the other end, Bermuda always posed a threat on the counter attack, with Nahki Wells’s punishing El Salvador for their profligacy in the 70th minute when he headed home Reggie Lambe’s cross from the left.

“We could have had a better result as we had the chances to score,” De los Cobos said. “We played better in the second half but we didn’t take our chances ... this is football.”

De los Cobos added: “It was a difficult game for both teams because of the wind and rain. “In the first half neither team had time to adapt to the weather, but the second half was better for the fans as they saw a good game.”

Losing to Bermuda has seriously derailed El Salvador’s hopes of advancing to the Gold Cup next year as one of the top ten teams from the Nations League. They have the same points as Bermuda, having beaten Monserrat 2-1 and Barbados 3-0, but face Caribbean powerhouse Jamaica at home in their final qualifier.

“We need to win at home against Jamaica,” De los Cobos said. “It’s a very difficult game, but I have confidence in my team.”