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World Cup qualifying dates confirmed for Bermuda

Bermuda coach Kyle Lightbourne

Bermuda’s 2022 World Cup qualifying schedule was confirmed by Concacaf and Fifa yesterday.

The Gombey Warriors, who were meant to begin qualifying in October but had been delayed by the global pandemic like all the other teams in the region, will now begin with a match away to group B favourites Canada on March 25.

That will be followed five days later by a match against Aruba at the National Sports Centre on March 30.

The scourge of Covid-19 has meant that in order to squeeze in qualifying so that the World Cup can go ahead as scheduled in Qatar in the winter of 2022, home-and-away ties have had to be abandoned in early qualifying — much as was the case for the late knockout stages in European cup competition last season.

The other teams in Bermuda’s group are Surinam and Cayman Islands.

Kyle Lightbourne’s side, who thrilled supporters with their deep run in the 2019 Gold Cup and meritorious performances in the Concacaf Nations League later that summer, face Surinam away on June 4 and Cayman at home four days later.

Only the winners of the six first-round groups move to the second round, which will feature three home-and-away ties on June 12 and 15 to determine who will move to the final round to join the top five seeded nations — United States, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Jamaica.

The final round will be played over five international windows between September 2021 and March 2022. The top three teams will move on to the World Cup, while the fourth-placed finisher will enter an inter-continental play-off.

Coach Lightbourne had earlier spoken of his fears about Bermuda’s largely overseas-based squad travelling in the Covid era, and backed the original decision for the matches to be postponed. But with the recent global spike in cases, which has caught up to Bermuda since the reopening of the airport, such uncertainty may remain.

It has meant that, while other Concacaf countries have taken part in international friendlies during international breaks since football returned, Bermuda has been idle.

The last time the squad was together was for a 2-0 friendly defeat away to Jamaica in March.

Less than a week later, Covid-19 was officially declared a global pandemic.

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Published December 05, 2020 at 5:13 pm (Updated December 05, 2020 at 5:12 pm)

World Cup qualifying dates confirmed for Bermuda

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