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Lightbourne bracing himself for stern test

Match preparation: Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, tries to get his message across to his players during a training session at the National Sports Centre. Bermuda are preparing to face Guyana on Thursday (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, is bracing himself for what he anticipates will be a “tough outing” for his team against Guyana in their final Gold Cup warm up at the National Stadium on Thursday.

Like their hosts, the visitors, ranked just two places below Bermuda in 22nd in the Concacaf rankings, boast a number of players and coaching staff with professional experience under their belt and, as such, will certainly be no pushovers.

“Their core players are made up of players that have played in England, either through academies or some of them may play in League One or League Two or non-league similar to our players, so we are expecting a tough game,” Lightbourne said.

“I know their coach, Michael Johnson, from playing in England and their assistant coach, Paul Williams, I played with at Coventry City so they have some experience with them that’s played at a very good level and we expect them to be good.”

Bermuda qualified for the Gold Cup for the first time after finishing fifth in the Nations League qualifiers and have been pitted in group B along with Costa Rica, Haiti and Nicaragua.

Lightbourne’s team will face Haiti in their tournament opener at the Estadio Nacional in San José, Costa Rica, on June 16 before taking on Costa Rica, who competed at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on June 20 and Nicaragua at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, on June 24.

Guyana have also qualified for the Gold Cup and, like Bermuda, are also making their debut at the biennial competition for teams in North America, Central America.

Guyana have been pitted in group D which is also comprises of Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States.

“They are a small nation as well and so they have something to prove,” Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, said.

“I watched one of their games from the Nations League and they have a lot of players in their group based in England and they are a very decent side.”

Meanwhile, Lightbourne has been busy putting his players through their paces in preparation for Thursday’s encounter against and is encouraged by the progress being made and enthusiasm in the camp.

“We are pleased with the way things are going and the vibe is good,” he said.

“We had a good session today and worked on a couple of things a lot of good things came out of it.”

The Gold Cup has been extended from 12 teams to 16 teams split into four groups.

The seeded teams are Mexico in group A, Costa Rica in group B, Honduras in group C and the United States in group D. The remaining nations are Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, Martinique, Curaçao, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica and El Salvador.

In the knockout rounds, the NRG Stadium in Houston and the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will host two quarter-final matches each, on June 29 and 30 respectively.

The winning teams will move on to State Farm Stadium in Phoenix and Nissan Stadium in Nashville for the semi-finals. The final is scheduled to be played on July 7 at Soldier Field in Chicago.