Fired-up Bermuda have ‛unfinished business’ against Aruba
Danté Leverock says Bermuda have “unfinished business” with Aruba when the nations lock horns in their World Cup qualifying group B match at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, tonight.
Bermuda will be out to avenge a 3-1 defeat in a Concacaf Nations League qualifier in the previous meeting between the two countries in September 2018.
“They actually beat us before in the first Nations League game that we played in Curaçao, so we have some unfinished business with them, which adds to the excitement we have to play them,” Leverock, the Bermuda captain, said.
Both teams will be keen to get their campaigns on track having suffered heavy losses in their opening qualifiers last week. Bermuda lost 5-1 against Canada and Aruba 6-0 at the hands of Suriname.
“Obviously, it’s a tough result against Canada,” Leverock added. “No one likes to be defeated in that way, and they outclassed us in every area.
“Aruba lost their opening game as well, so they will be hungry for a win.”
Bermuda, already without coach Kyle Lightbourne and key senior players such as Nahki Wells, Willie Clemons and the injured Reggie Lambe, were further hampered upon their arrival in Orlando when seven of their 23-member squad were ruled out of the Canada match for reasons related to Covid-19.
It meant the substitutes’ bench was only six deep, with Jordan Outerbridge, Chae Brangman and Kane Crichlow handed their senior international debuts from the start far sooner than they might have anticipated when they were first called up.
Efforts by The Royal Gazette to determine how many, if any, of the seven have cleared Covid protocols to be available for selection tonight have proved unsuccessful.
Leverock added: “It was a big learning experience for the young players and the debutants that came in. I think it showed them the difference in levels that it is from local football to international football.
“It’s a massive jump and I think it showed that the little things are important in any decent level of football that you must do consistently.
“The result didn’t come. But the main thing for me being one of the leaders of the group is, not only learn myself, but help them to learn the little things and not let them bypass them. You must learn from losses as well as your wins.”
Canada, big favourites in group B even before a ball was kicked, firmly established themselves yesterday in an 11-0 blowout of hapless Cayman Islands.
With only one country in each of the six preliminary groups destined to advance to the second round, it is obvious very early that the rest are playing for second place.
The Canada victory — which was rescheduled from Sunday because Cayman had failed to fulfil Covid testing protocol — improved Bermuda’s position in the five-team group to third on goal difference, and Leverock is keen to build on that.
“We had a good training session yesterday and the intensity was very high,” the captain said. “I think we all felt that frustration of losing that game.
“Players were pushing each other, knowing that spots are also up for grabs. People want to prove themselves and we want to put ourselves in better stead to prepare for Aruba.”
Leverock added: “At the end of the day it’s been a long rollercoaster of emotions and things we’ve had to deal with. The last couple of days we have been going over tactical things. The boys are ready to play and credit to everyone who has sacrificed a lot to be here.
“As you can see, it’s a different group but our goal remains the same — to win football matches, so that’s what we plan to do against Aruba.”