No pressure on Bermuda, says Lightbourne
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, insists there is no pressure on his team as they embark on their historic Concacaf Gold Cup campaign tomorrow.
By far the smallest nation in the tournament, few have given Bermuda much hope of advancing from group B, which also includes Costa Rica and Nicaragua, as one of the top two qualifiers.
Lightbourne, however, has other ideas, although he admits the island's opening game against Haiti at the Estadio Nacional will have a major bearing on his team's fate.
“We're not under any pressure at all,” Lightbourne said during a press conference at the stadium today. “We're the underdogs. A lot of the other teams are under more pressure.”
It certainly appears as though Bermuda are more than comfortable with their underdog status, which could provide them with the perfect cover to spring a surprise result against Haiti.
“The first game is always crucial,” said Lightbourne, whose Bermuda under-20 team played several matches at the Estadio Nacional during the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in 2017.
“If our intention is to get out of this group then it's very important to get something out of this game.
“We've watched Haiti a couple of times and we know what to expect. If our players perform to the level that we know they can, I think we will be in the game.
“It's just a matter of us keeping our heads and being able to handle the situation.”
Danté Leverock, the Bermuda captain, believes the close bonds between the players forged from years of friendship could give them a vital edge when the going inevitably gets tough.
“[The Gold Cup] is something we've looked forward to for a while now,” the defender said. “We're not under any pressure; we're relaxed and excited.
“We've been together for a very long time. We have that bond, that connection. We have punched above our weight and we want to continue that trend.”
Meanwhile, defender Donte Brangman and goalkeeper Dale Eve have been passed fit for tomorrow's game.
Brangman injured his leg during Bermuda's final warm-up game against Guyana at the National Stadium last week, while Eve missed yesterday's final training session.