Bermuda bow out in Florida
Battling Bermuda bowed out of the Concacaf Under-17 Championships after losing 4-2 in their must-win final group game against Jamaica in Bradenton, Florida, yesterday.
Bermuda needed a victory to qualify to the round of 16 as one of the top three teams in group E, but finished at the foot of the pile after slumping to their third successive defeat of the competition.
Mexico won the group after beating Trinidad & Tobago 5-0 in the earlier game at the IMG Academy yesterday, with Jamaica snatching the third and final qualifying berth.
Coach Cecoy Robinson's side, who lost 3-1 to Trinidad and 5-0 to Mexico, made a horrendous start the game, conceding three goals during a barmy opening 15 minutes to all but end their hopes of victory.
Bermuda's porous defence struggled to handle the pace and power of Rayjay Wright, Jamaica's hat-trick hero, and the lively Revaldo Mitchell, particularly during a difficult first period.
Perhaps the magnitude of the encounter got the better of the Bermudians, who made a surprisingly sluggish start, falling behind in the second minute when Wright stole the ball in the middle of the park before launching his side's first attack.
Spotting Mitchell making a run between the gaping hole separating Bermuda's centre halves, Wright threaded the ball invitingly into his path, with Mitchell calmly slotting his left-footed effort past Coleridge Fubler Jr, the Bermuda goalkeeper.
Bermuda fell farther behind in the tenth minute when the industrious Wright raced into the box, using his strength and trickery to beat two defenders before cutting on to his right foot and tucking the ball past Fubler. A shell-shocked Bermuda were caught napping again in the fifteenth minute when their defence was dissected by another through-ball, allowing Wright to advance on goal and finish neatly into the bottom corner.
Fubler then showed impressive alertness and athleticism to first keep out a pass that deflected dangerously off the outstretched boot of a Bermuda defender before pushing Mitchell's follow-up attempt out for a corner kick.
Robinson's side were offering very little going forward, and other than a speculative effort by Ne-Jai Tucker, which was easily saved by goalkeeper Tajay Griffiths, barely advanced beyond the halfway line until the half-hour mark.
They did create their first sight thanks to Zakiyah Lee, who burst down the left before picking out LJ Lewis, who fluffed his lines when a cool head was required, miskicking his left-footed effort over the crossbar. Lee then went close to the reducing the daunting deficit, volleying just wide at the near post from an inswinging corner kick just before half-time.
Bermuda started the second half with real urgency, pulling a goal back in the 48th minute through substitute Jayce Basden, who played a one-two on the edge of the area before poking past Griffiths moments before a defender came sliding in to intervene.
It did not take long, though, for Jamaica to restore their three-goal cushion, with Jermone Shepherd delivering a devilish free kick that was steered home by the unmarked Wright in the 52nd minute.
Wright was causing Bermuda all manner of problems with his intelligent link-up play and physicality, turning provider with a pull-back for Gregory Cousins, who should have done better with a shot that whistled over the bar.
Bermuda were fortunate not to fall further in arrears when Mitchell muscled this way into the box, his shot squirming through the gloves of Fubler before bouncing off the post and fortuitously into the relieved goalkeeper's hands.
In the 64th minute, Bermuda were awarded a penalty when Lewis dribbled past a pair of Jamaica defenders before being nudged into the back by Kenroy Campbell. Arnezha Astwood, the Bermuda captain, made no mistake from the spot kick to make it 4-2.
Tucker, who missed a penalty against Trinidad in his side's opener on Wednesday, almost added third after a free kick to the back post but was twice denied by Griffiths, who needed treatment after diving low to keep out the ball out.
Had it not been for Fubler, the deficit could have been greater, with the goalkeeper making two late saves from Wright and Cousins to ensure the scoreline stayed respectable.