Kyle Lightbourne well aware of Surinam’s new-found strength in depth
Kyle Lightbourne has warned Bermuda must be wary of the new-found strength in depth of Surinam ahead of a challenging World Cup qualifier on Friday.
The two nations face off at the Frank Essed Stadion in Paramaribo in an encounter that could prove decisive in group B, with Surinam aiming to maintain their flawless record, having won both of the first two matches, and keep the pressure on Canada for top spot and a place in the second round of Concacaf qualifying.
Not only do Lightbourne and his squad have to face the logistical difficulties of travelling to a nation — on the north-eastern coast of South America — under total lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but they also have the task of taking on a team that is almost unrecognisable a little more than a year ago.
After a ruling from Fifa in late October, Surinam head coach Dean Gorré was handed a big boost with permission to call up players with dual nationality to represent the country, which is a former Dutch territory.
As a result, no fewer than 14 previously uncapped overseas-based players have been called up since, with Warner Hahn (Anderlecht), Ridgeciano Haps (Feyenoord), Shaquille Pinas (Den Haag), Damil Dankerlui (Groningen), Diego Biseswar (Limassol), Ryan Koolwijk (Almere City), Dion Malone (NAC Breda), Ishan Kort (Almere City), Myenty Abena (Slovan Bratislava), Tjaronn Chery (Maccabi Haifa), Roland Alberg (Roda), Sheraldo Becker (Union Berlin) and Nigel Hasselbaink (Bnei Sakhnin), as well as former Dutch youth internationals Kelvin Leerdam (Inter Miami) and Ryan Donk (Galatasaray), adding significant reinforcement to the squad and making Surinam one of the region’s most intriguing teams.
“Surinam have almost completely changed their team and have managed to call upon a lot of new players from leagues across Europe and elsewhere,” said Lightbourne, whose squad was set to arrive in Surinam.
“A lot of nations are now calling on players from other nations. As we now have consistent games and tournaments, players are wanting to be involved.
“It’s just one of those things. They will be a tough opposition, but we have to deal with it and just get on with it.”
The undeniable added quality to the squad was evident in Surinam’s first two qualifiers as they recorded back-to-back victories, following up a 3-0 win over Cayman Islands with a thumping 6-0 success against Aruba, to sit second in the group on the same points as Canada, but with an inferior goal difference.
Despite their flawless record to date, Lightbourne remains undeterred about the prospect of facing the much improved opposition, even going as far to questioning the extent of how much Gorré’s side have really been tested as yet.
“Obviously, they won both their games and so we know they will be tough opposition but one of those came at home against Cayman Islands, who on paper are arguably the weakest team in the group,” added Lightbourne, whose side bounced back from an opening 5-1 defeat by Canada in style with a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Aruba to reignite their campaign. “I’m not sure they’ve been properly tested yet. It’s hard to know just how good a team they are, so we’ll have to see.
“We’ve watched the highlights from their first two matches and from that we will work out how best to prepare to face them.”
After facing Surinam, Bermuda will then head to the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, to play Cayman Islands on June 8.
• Bermuda forward Justin Donawa has been included among the Solihull Moors retained list, confirming his continued stay with the club for the next Vanarama National League campaign.
The 24-year-old, arrived at the West Midlands-based club from National League North outfit Darlington for an undisclosed fee at the end of October last year, signing a deal until the end of the 2021-22 season.
Donawa made 24 league appearances for Solihull last season, scoring four goals in the process, as the club secured an eleventh-place finish.