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Robinson chuffed about girls’ steady strides

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Hot shot: Nia Christopher was the top scorer for Bermuda with five goals in Guyana (Photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Bermuda failed to advance to the next round of the Concacaf Under-20 Women’s World Cup qualifiers, but coach Naquita Robinson believes there is still plenty to be optimistic about with a team that contained a few 16-year-olds.

Bermuda lost their first two matches in Guyana last week against the hosts and St Lucia before finishing with a flurry of goals against Suriname and Antigua in 6-1 and 5-1 wins. They were the highest scorers in the groups and the performances drew praise from opposing coaches.

“I’m really proud of this group of girls,” Robinson said yesterday. “It’s a very young team. We have girls who will play in the 2021 under-20s and the 2023 under-20s, so it bodes well for the direction we are heading in.

“A while back, we spoke about having a working group and this is the same working group that had success at under-17s and success at under-15s in the same year. We’re moving in the right direction.

“The goalpost is set for the 2022 qualifiers for the 2023 World Cup and if that post has to be moved again, then it’s not an issue. These girls are motivated.”

Nia Christopher and Ryley Simmons scored hat-tricks in the win over Suriname before Adia Gibbons netted three times and Christopher twice in the Antigua win. Christopher was the team’s top scorer with five goals.

“We were able to finish big because each game they played was like the first game they played,” the coach said.

“We played after St Lucia beat Antigua and if Antigua had won, we still stood a chance mathematically.

“But once St Lucia beat Antigua, we knew we were out of it. That’s the game we played Suriname and ended up beating them 6-1.”

Robinson added: “As a coach, you can’t be happier or more proud of these young ladies. The majority of these girls will play in the under-17 tournament coming up next March, so this was a good training camp for them.

“Quite a few of these girls in this team who are in the under-17s are going off to school in August, so we have a good idea what they have to offer. All are going to football schools and playing throughout the year, so we’re every excited about the direction that women’s football is heading.

We outscored our opponents, scored 12 goals, while the other teams scored nine and under. We understand where it went wrong, that we needed to be more clinical in our first two matches. “We were getting in good scoring positions, one-on-one with the keeper and giving it to the keeper or putting it to the side of the goal or over the top. The tactical side of the game was good; technically the best team in the group, hands down.

“Coaches came up to us and spoke about the quality of our players and the quality of the playing, so we’re really happy with where we’re heading and the work that the girls are putting in. We’re excited that they are motivated to keep going. We didn’t advance, but it is not the end of the world. These girls started off slow in the under-15s and under-17s as well. In the under-20s, they saw that the competition is a little bit tougher, although we still should have won the group.”

Robinson spoke of the importance of the group playing more together. “We just need Bermuda to continue to be behind us,” she said. “The [Bermuda Football] Association supports every effort we’re making on the girls’ side and working to make sure we get competition outside of Bermuda so that we can have high-level matches more often.”

Room for growth: Emily Carbral, left, Danni Watson and Koa Goodchild, three of the younger members of the Bermuda Under-20 Women’s team, mix it up with the under-15 boys team during a training session last year. The trio are still eligible to play at under-17 level next year (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)