A sense of national pride
Qualifying for the Concacaf Gold Cup would be a “great accomplishment” that will make the island extremely proud, says Bermuda winger Zeiko Lewis.
The Charleston Battery player and his Bermuda team-mates can secure one of the qualifying spots up for grabs with victory over the Dominican Republic in their final Concacaf Nations League qualifier at the Estadio Cibao in Santiago tomorrow.
“It would be a great accomplishment for Bermuda football,” Lewis said in an interview with Concacaf.com. “Coming from a small island of about 65,000 people this would be something that many Bermudians will be proud to be Bermudian as we say.
“Not only will it give us more exposure, for our players to be able to live out their dreams of playing against top-level players, but also the potential of getting more of our players scouted into professional teams.
“It could also put our organisation in a place to get us better opponents that we have not been playing in previous years so we can better ourselves.”
The 23-year-old is wary that he and his team-mates have their work cut out against their hosts but says they are more than up for the challenge.
“We are all focused and ready for the job at hand,” said Lewis, who netted his first goal for new club Charleston in a 2-1 home win over Hartford Athletic in the United Soccer League Championship a week ago.
“We know it is not going to be an easy task, but we are all mentally and physically prepared to go beyond our limits to achieve our goal of winning the match and hopefully qualification.
“It's a very positive mindset heading into this final Concacaf Nations League qualifier.
“We also have a great support system back home growing with every step we take in this tournament. The better we do, the more support we are seeing from our fans back home.
“Some are even making the trip down to Dominican Republic to support us.”
Kyle Lightbourne's team are seventh in the qualifying standings with two wins from three games and in a strong position to qualify for the Gold Cup for the first time going into their final qualifying match.
The top ten teams advance to this year's Gold Cup in the United States, a biennial championship for teams in North, Central America, and the Caribbean region which Bermuda has never previously reached.
“The Concacaf Nations League has made Bermuda a stronger and better team for so many reasons,” Lewis added.
“We get to see each other regularly. We have a better understanding of not only our game plan, but each other's tendencies that we've picked up at our clubs.
“Playing with each other more often has seen the team grow to a level that many Bermudians have not seen from our players in a long time.
“It is inspiring the youth as well as adults to get behind the team and want to be a part of the team along with us.”