‘Gold Cup just start of journey’
Mark Wade, the Bermuda Football Association president, believes the island's impressive display on their Concacaf Gold Cup debut is the culmination of “years of hard work by many” and also “validates” the association's strategic plans to establish the island into a formidable force within the region.
Bermuda finished third in group B behind Haiti and Costa Rica, the two qualifiers, to miss out on advancing to the quarter-finals.
Kyle Lightbourne's team suffered 2-1 losses to Haiti and Costa Rica before beating Nicaragua 2-0.
“This team has shown we are ready to compete at a higher level within our region,” Wade said.
“We have achieved what many countries have yet to achieve. That is, qualifying for the Concacaf Gold Cup and winning our first match. All achieved with a cadre of 99 per cent local coaching staff and all home-grown players; a rarity these days.
“It is very rewarding to see the culmination of years of work by many.
“It also validates the last four BFA strategic plans, where the goals and objectives were mostly achieved.
“Most of these players' international careers started in the early 2000s. Their early football foundation was laid here at home with our local football clubs and coaches.”
Bermuda qualified for the Gold Cup for the first time after finishing fifth in the Nations League qualifiers with three wins and one loss.
“We have stated that the Gold Cup is a stop along the journey,” Wade added.
“We expect to continue the upward trajectory of all our national teams. The short-term goal for the senior men is to remain in League A of the Nations League.
“We have come to the end of the last Strategic Plan cycle and we are drafting the fifth strategic plan of this new era. We will communicate the goals and objectives before the end of the year.”
Wade, the former PHC defender, coach and president, believes the success of Lightbourne's team will have a positive impact on the domestic game.
“We anticipate the displays inspiring all local players, in particular the youth players who are just starting their international football,” he said.
“In addition, players such as Donte Brangman, Lejuan Simmons, Cecoy Robinson, Tre Ming, Dale Eve and Marco Warren, who all play in Bermuda, should inspire the local-based player that they, too, can challenge for a place on the national team. .
“The local-based players on the team will now go to our clubs with a renewed vigour and share their experiences to get the best out if each player involved in the Nations League and Gold Cup. We anticipate this trickling down into our local game as well.”
Bermuda have been drawn against Mexico and Panama in group B of League A in the inaugural Nations League.
The group phase matches will be played during three Fifa international windows: September 6 to 11, October 7 to 15 and November 11 to 19. Bermuda will face each opponent twice, home and away.
League A is split into four pools of three with the winner of each group advancing to the semi-finals. The bottom team in each pool will be relegated to League B.
Group A of League A includes the United States, Canada and Cuba, group C features Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago and Martinique, while group D is made up of Costa Rica, Haiti and Curaçao.