Kyle Lightbourne finalises Bermuda plans for Florida training camp
Kyle Lightbourne hopes to capitalise on the national football team’s upcoming training camp in Florida as he and his coaching staff ramp up World Cup qualifying preparations.
Bermuda will train and play two friendly matches against opponents yet to be confirmed in the space of three days during a weeklong camp at the IMG Academy next month.
Lightbourne said: “We leave on March 2 and hopefully arrive the same day and then we will have two days training prior to our match. We are definitely going to have two matches, on March 5 and 7, and return to Bermuda on March 8.”
The camp will enable Bermuda to get precious minutes on the pitch in a competitive match, which they have been deprived of lately because of Covid-19 restrictions.
“The most important thing is that the players are able to get minutes under their belt and we can fully concentrate on putting our game plan in place for Canada with the players that we have there,” Lightbourne added.
“That’s the main thing; the players getting minutes in their legs because we are not playing football at this moment and that is the most important thing.”
Located in Bradenton, Florida, the IMG Academy is the world’s largest and most advanced multi-sport training and educational institution.
“We are hoping to use that [training facility] very wisely,” Lightbourne said. “It is excellent facilities, the pitches are well maintained, so we should get some good workouts out of it.
“We just hope we can get through that without any injuries and then when we come back, the coaching staff can buckle down and pick the final 23. That’s our aim.”
He added: “I think the majority of the team will be there. Maybe one or two will be missing but the majority will be there like Willie [Clemons], Zeiko [Lewis] and we’re hoping to have Dale [Eve] back.
“Obviously the players whose leagues are still up and running we won’t have. But a vast majority of them we will, so we will be able to assess where they are as far as their fitness.
“It’s so crazy with this pandemic. It’s messed around with everything; people’s livelihoods.”
Bermuda are scheduled to begin their campaign with a match away to Canada on March 25 before hosting Aruba at the National Sports Centre on March 30. They will then face Surinam and Cayman Islands in their remaining group matches.
It remains unclear where Bermuda’s opener against group favourites Canada will be played, amid growing speculation that it will be at a neutral venue.
The venue and attendant Covid restrictions will be a key factor in determining whether overseas players such as talisman Nahki Wells will be available.
“That has a significant effect on players outside of Bermuda playing internationally like Nahki Wells, Justin Donawa and Milan Butterfield – all of those that are under contract at clubs that are still involved in their leagues,” Lightbourne said.
“That poses a problem and I’m not sure if Canada has made the decision yet to just use all local-based players, the ones that are in Canada or more [US] East Coast than Europe because of the Covid rules.
“It has been very frustrating that they [Canada] haven’t announced where the game is going to be played yet. I’d rather know exactly where it’s going to be, as a neutral venue can be anywhere.”