Wells rises to the occasion
Nahki Wells marked his first appearance in a Bermuda shirt in 3½ years by scoring the winner in a 1-0 upset over El Salvador in their Concacaf Nations League qualifier at the National Stadium last night.
The striker got on the end of Reggie Lambe’s cross with a glancing header in the 70th minute that gave Henry Hernández, the El Salvador goalkeeper, no chance.
“I haven’t been back in a while, but I knew I was returning in a bit of a rich vein of form and enjoying football again in a game that meant a lot to the country,” said Wells, on loan at Sky Bet Championship side Queens Park Rangers from Burnley.
“I just tried to bring that enthusiasm, that little bit of experience and that little bit of difference that we needed and thankfully it paid off.
“I recall getting it out to Reggie and getting in the box — that’s what strikers do.
“I’m not fortunate enough to score many headers but when I do it means a lot. You have to be brave and I was brave, and fortunately it went in.”
Wells, 28, said it always felt special playing at home in front of familiar faces.
“I’ve played in a lot of grounds in the world but it’s a little different [in Bermuda] because it means so much,” he added.
“A lot of family, a lot of friends and a lot of people you know from growing up. It’s our home and we have to do everything we can to wear the badge with pride.”
Wells also thanked the fans who braved the wet and windy conditions to cheer on the island.
“Credit to the fans, they came out in this unbelievable weather in their numbers and made a difference,” he said. “They cheered us on to the end and it was hard. It was a fight.”
Bermuda’s second straight win in the competition kept alive their hopes of qualifying for the Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States next year.
“We want to go to the Gold Cup and this is where it starts right here,” Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, said. “It’s [victory] massive for us and this is what we have worked for.”
Leverock said Bermuda backed their ability against their higher-ranked opponents.
“We believed in ourselves and now we need the whole country behind us,” Leverock added. “These are the types of games you want to test yourself against quality players.
“El Salvador are a good team. They can move the ball well and their first touch is tight, so we had to stay disciplined and take our chances when they came and we did. We got the win and this is a huge boost for us. The crowd really helped us and credit to them.”
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, hailed his team’s committed display.
“I think we got it right first half as far as trying to kill the game a little bit because the wind was so strong. I think the players managed the first half really well. I thought we came out slow second half and El Salvador upped their game and we rode our luck a little bit.
“But in the end, we created that chance and Nahki did the rest. Between him and Reggie they created that chance and that’s what it’s about, scoring goals.”