Leverock eyeing major upset against powerhouse Canada
Danté Leverock is confident Bermuda can pull off an upset against regional powerhouse Canada in their opening 2022 World Cup qualifier in Orlando, Florida next month.
Canada, 73rd in the Fifa world rankings, 96 places above Bermuda, are the overwhelming favourites going into the March 25 clash at the Exploria Stadium.
However, Leverock, the Bermuda captain, begs to differ.
“Canada is obviously one of the top nations in the region, but we don’t fear anyone,” he said.
“We feel we can beat them if we implement our game plan and we do the right things at our top level.”
The Robin Hood defender added: “We have big aspirations for the World Cup and for the [Concacaf] Gold Cup.
“This generation coming along must set the platform for the young generation that is coming through with all these players playing in academies in England, playing professionally abroad or going to school abroad.
“We must set that platform so when it’s their time to play they’re competing and winning games at the top level.”
Canada was originally scheduled to host the upcoming World Cup qualifier.
However, the fixture was moved to a neutral venue after the Canadian Government imposed stricter restrictions on travellers to combat a more contagious variant of the virus and suspended airline service to Mexico and all Caribbean destinations until April 30.
No spectators will be allowed to attend.Bermuda will host Aruba at the National Sports Centre five days after facing Canada on March 30, with group B matches to follow at home to Surinam on June 4 and away to Cayman Islands on June 8.
The Gombey Warriors made giant strides towards achieving their goal of becoming a force within the Concacaf region after qualifying for the Gold Cup for the first time in 2019 after finishing fifth in the Nations League qualifiers, with a record of three wins and one defeat.
Kyle Lightbourne’s team failed to advance from the group stage at the Gold Cup held the same year but held their own, having recorded a 2-0 shutout victory over Nicaragua and lost to Costa Rica who have competed at five World Cup finals by the odd goal (2-1).
“We know we can compete with the top teams in the region, but we want to take that a step further and win these matches,” Leverock said. “We are not here just to compete any more, we want to win matches and establish ourselves as one of the top countries within our region.
“We look forward to doing well and competing.”
Bermuda will ramp up their World Cup qualifying preparations during training camp from March 2 to 8 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida where they will also play two friendly matches against the Bahamas.
“We always want to play football at the end of the day and represent our country, which is the biggest honour, so we’re focused on our friendly matches coming up at IMG Academy,” Leverock said.
“That will be good preparation. Not only for football, but with travelling; following the protocols, the mindset, the things it’s going to take for us to do it again two weeks after to play Canada.
“Going through that whole process we will be familiar with everything that playing these games entail.
“We aren’t just travelling on a plane and playing football. It’s so many things that come into play with quarantine and things of that nature, so we are focused and training is going well.”
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.
“We are finally excited to get going,” Leverock added. “It’s been obviously a roller coaster of emotions and our preparation has been stifled a bit with Covid-19 restrictions.
“But we can only adapt to the situation that’s in front of us, so we are excited to play.”