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Leverock: We have only ourselves to blame

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All left on the field: Bermuda midfielder Willie Clemons struggles to accept that an action-packed performance in the island’s historic first appearance at the Concacaf Gold Cup came to naught after Haiti came from behind to score a 2-1 victory at the Estadio Nacional, in San José, Costa Rica, on Sunday. Bermuda meet group favourites Costa Rica in Texas on Thursday (Photograph courtesy of Mexsport)

Danté Leverock admits Bermuda have only themselves to blame after letting Haiti off the hook in the first half of their Gold Cup opener at the Estadio Nacional on Sunday.

The Bermuda captain, who gave his side the lead on the stroke of half-time with a well-placed header, believes Bermuda should have entered the interval with more than a one-goal cushion.

Zeiko Lewis was the chief culprit, missing a pair of gilt-edged chances, while Nahki Wells and Lejuan Simmons should have done better from good opportunities.

“In the first half, we were on top,” Leverock said. “We had our chances and at this level you have to take them.

“The attackers know they have to be scoring those types of chances, but we can’t fault them. They work hard and will win us games.

“Some of the guys’ heads are down and it’s up to the leaders in the group to pick them up.”

Leverock, who played as a striker in his youth before converting to a centre half, showed the forwards how it is done by scoring the island’s first goal at the regional tournament. Swallowing the bitter pill of defeat, however, took the edge off his memorable moment.

“To score for my country, in front of my family, is always a good feeling, but I’d rather not score and we win and keep a clean sheet,” the 27-year-old said. “Maybe I’ll look back in a couple of weeks and be proud of myself. Right now, I’m disappointed.”

Haiti scored two second-half goals through Frantzdy Pierrot as Bermuda struggled to cope with the searing pace of substitute Derrick Etienne, who swung the momentum in his side’s favour.

“They came out very strong and [Etienne] is a good player and his pace created problems for us,” Leverock added. “We can only look at ourselves, talk to the gaffer [coach Kyle Lightbourne], look at the video and see where we went wrong.

“Maybe we sat back a bit too much and invited the pressure. Both goals were lapses in concentration.”

He added: “It’s disappointing, but it’s a tournament and we just have to move on to the next game. Now we travel to Texas and try and take care of business.”

Lewis, a former team-mate of Etienne’s at Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls, echoed Leverock’s sentiments regarding Bermuda’s missed opportunities.

“If we had taken our chances, we could have easily won this game,” Lewis said. “It’s always frustrating to miss chances, but we were all encouraging each other to stay positive for the second half.”

Lewis added: “We had a feeling they were going to come out flying [after the break]. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop them and they got the goal they wanted.

“The whole Haiti team got a bit of a boost and they showed a lot of heart and desire in the second half.”

Coach Lightbourne rues the failure to get to grips with Etienne, who had the run on Donte Brangman at right back and anyone else who committed to put the brakes on him.

“I said to my right back, can we just turn him [Etienne] for six minutes,” Lightbourne said. “Even if we don’t have possession of the ball, we will be able to regroup. We gave the ball away and they won a free kick and scored.

“We knew what they were going to do from that free kick, but we didn’t stop it. It’s a hard learning curve.”

Bermuda take on group B favourites Costa Rica, who beat Nicaragua 4-0, in their second game in Frisco, Texas, on Thursday.

Stephen Wright travelled to San José, Costa Rica, courtesy of JetBlue, which provided flights between Bermuda, Boston, Orlando and San José. Flights available at www.jetblue.com