Lightbourne to face familiar foes
Kyle Lightbourne is looking forward to renewing old acquaintances from his English playing days when Bermuda face Guyana at the National Stadium tonight.
Lightbourne’s opposite number in the Guyana dugout is Michael Johnson, the former Birmingham City and Derby County defender, who has also led his team to the Concacaf Gold Cup for the first time.
The Bermuda head coach still winces when remembering being “kicked up in the air” as a Stoke City forward while being closely marked by Birmingham’s Johnson during their tussles in the Championship during the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Lightbourne is also a former Coventry City team-mate of Paul Williams, who is on the Guyana coaching staff.
“I played with Paul Williams at Coventry and I’ve known Michael for quite some time,” Lightbourne said. “He always kicked me up in the air!
“It’s a great opportunity for them to see our island and see where we come from and experience our culture. I’m sure they will get a moment to look around and see what Bermuda is all about.”
Both coaches will be hoping for a victory in their final warm-up match before their teams enter uncharted waters as the two Gold Cup debutants.
Bermuda are on the back of four successive wins from the Nations League qualifiers, where they finished in fifth in the standings, two places above Guyana.
“Guyana are in a similar position to us; a team who are looking to play in their first Gold Cup,” Lightbourne said. “We expect to see some of the things we’ve been working on in training, both offensively and defensively.
“That’s our main priority for this match. The result isn’t the most important thing; however, we do want to be very competitive. Winning is always going to breed confidence and we would like to continue our winning run, for sure.”
Lightbourne said he will use the friendly to reintroduce overseas professionals Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, Zeiko Lewis, Roger Lee and Willie Clemons, who returned to the island last week to join up with the squad.
“We have a couple of players who have arrived late and we’re going to give them an opportunity to bed in properly,” he added. “The atmosphere in the camp has been good throughout the Nations League period. We’ve made a couple of changes and [those players] have fitted in well. They have already been part of the squad.”
Leverock said anticipation was building within the camp as the players prepare to announce themselves on the biggest stage in Bermudian football history.
“There’s a good buzz around the group,” said Leverock, who is available for selection against Guyana after recovering from a concussion he suffered while playing for Irish side Sligo Rovers.
“I came in a little late and the majority of the players have been here for the past month, even some of the English-based guys. They have put in the hard work and there’s just excitement now around the whole country.”