Big hitters on board for qualifier
Bermuda have named a strong 23-man squad to travel to the Dominican Republic for the crucial Concacaf Nations League qualifier on March 23.
Justin Donawa and Jonté Smith have returned to the squad along with fit-again PHC Zebras midfielder Marco Warren.
Quinaceo Hunt, of PHC, who is in school overseas along with Zebras team-mate Keishon Bean, is one of three goalkeepers named, providing back-up to Dale Eve and Jahquil Hill.
The bulk of the squad is based overseas, either in school or playing professionally, with captain Danté Leverock, Nahki Wells, Reggie Lambe, Willie Clemons, Roger Lee, Zeiko Lewis among the professionals.
“We have a full squad to pick from, which made it a difficult one to pick because we have all the players available and free from injury,” Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, said.
The team will participate in a pre-match camp in Florida before travelling to the Dominican Republic a week tomorrow.
“We're looking forward to it,” Lightbourne added. “It's a big occasion for us and we're hoping to come back with the three points to advance to the Gold Cup.
:We're hoping to have a good week in Florida and do all the preparation that we need to do.”
The Bermuda Football Association cancelled plans to charter a flight to the Dominican Republic because of the cost, but Lightbourne still expects supporters to make the trip to the Caribbean.
“I've talked to people who have said they are travelling to watch the game,” Lightbourne said. “The charter was too much money, but we're hoping we can still have a good following and put on a good performance.
“It's not going to be an easy game; they've been pretty good at home and will be confident they can pull it off. We're going to have to play well to win.” PHC have five players in the squad, including Cecoy Robinson who led Bermuda on their recent trip to Cuba in the absence of Leverock.
Lightbourne, who was part of the Bermuda team that enjoyed a deep run in the 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign under coach Gary Darrell, is hoping to recapture past glories.
The 1-0 home victory over El Salvador in Bermuda's previous qualifier in November was the highlight of Lightbourne's tenure as coach.
“This is a huge opportunity for us to continue our growth,” he added. “We want to give that feel-good factor to our sporting community. I want to do it for everyone.
“We want to show everyone that we're a small nation but we're making strides.”
The match at the Estadio Cibao, a multi-use stadium in Santiago, will kick off at 6pm Bermuda time.