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Shannon Burgess holds out hope for Bermuda’s World Cup qualifiers

Shannon Burgess, the Bermuda Football Association competition committee chairman

Bermuda’s opening 2022 World Cup qualifying fixtures against Canada and Aruba remain on track to be held in March, the Bermuda Football Association has confirmed.

The Gombey Warriors will begin their campaign with a match away to group B favourites Canada on March 25 before hosting Aruba at the National Sports Centre on March 30.

All domestic football has been suspended indefinitely because of a spike in Covid-19 cases on the island.

However, the upcoming World Cup qualifiers remain unscathed thus far.

“The World Cup qualifiers are still slated to be played in the week of March 25, so Bermuda is due to play in Canada and then here against Aruba during that week,” Shannon Burgess, the BFA league and cup competition chairman, said.

“That all obviously depends on Canada’s regulations as far as getting into the country, whether or not players need to quarantine, and then what the Bermuda Government does about teams coming here.

“It’s still kind of early days, so we will have to have discussions to see what that looks like.”

Burgess added that the BFA has yet to discuss how Covid-19 protocols will affect spectators for Bermuda’s home qualifying match against Aruba.

Bermuda were meant to begin qualifying in October but have been delayed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which has also adversely impacted the national team’s preparations.

“The current phase we are at training sessions are limited to ten individuals, including coaches,” Burgess added. “Whether teams are doing split sessions to get players reconditioned, I don’t know.

“I hear that some teams are. But I guess until we move to a phase where we’re allowed full training sessions, the national team will probably be idle.”

Bermuda will face Surinam and Cayman Islands in their remaining group B qualifying matches.

The domestic season was suspended on December 6 after the Ministry of Health invoked Section 88 of the Public Health Act 1949 to combat the dramatic rise in the number of active Covid-19 cases on the island.

Still, the BFA is committed to seeing out the rest of the season.

“We are still keen to complete the season,” Burgess, the former Devonshire Colts and Bermuda captain, said. “What that looks like, we won’t know until we get an idea of when we can restart.

“That’s our intention as of now and obviously the clubs and players want to get back on the field.”

Burgess added: “We are just patiently waiting for guidance from the Government as to when teams can start training right now. Once we get an update on that, we will start to put the wheels in motion to see how we recommence the season.

“We had a meeting with the affiliates last week just to discuss scenarios. But we have to be guided by the Department of Health and we won’t be able to start planning until we get an idea of whether we can restart.”

Burgess said the league will be the main focus when the BFA receives the green light from the Government to resume.

He also said the Friendship Trophy and Shield competitions will also run their full course.

“The Friendship Trophy used to be played at the end of the season, so there’s nothing that prevents us from doing that,” Burgess added. “But we want to focus on the league first.

“There was never any intention to cut any of the cup competitions. The intention is to play them at a later date.”

The Friendship Trophy and Shield competitions were in the quarter-final stage when the season came to a halt.

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Published January 18, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated January 17, 2021 at 6:21 pm)

Shannon Burgess holds out hope for Bermuda’s World Cup qualifiers

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