Lejaun Simmons appointed interim Bermuda captain
Lejaun Simmons will don the captain’s armband in Bermuda’s remaining World Cup qualifying group B matches against Surinam and the Cayman Islands.
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, confirmed that the Devonshire Cougars forward has been appointed on an interim basis in the role that became vacant after Danté Leverock retired from international football last month.
“Lejaun will be captain and Eusebio Blankendal will be vice-captain for the next two matches,” Lightbourne told The Royal Gazette.
Leverock dropped a bombshell when he took to social media to announce his decision on May 17.
“Thank you for all the memories Bermuda FA, the highs and the lows,” the central defender posted on Facebook. “Playing on the biggest stage representing and being captain of my country, there’s no bigger honour.
“The future is so bright for Bermuda football. I can’t wait to see the new heights they reach.”
Leverock made 23 appearances for the national team, scoring five goals.
The 29-year-old started in Bermuda’s first two group B matches, against Canada and Aruba, and scored the third goal in a comprehensive 5-0 victory over the latter on March 30.
Lightbourne’s men are third in group B behind Canada and Surinam, having lost 5-1 against the former in their opening qualifying group match. Only the top team in the group will advance to the next round of qualifying.
Bermuda will face off with Surinam at the Frank Essed Stadion in Paramaribo tomorrow 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.
The national team arrived in the South American country on Tuesday.
“We made it to Surinam fine, everything worked out OK,” Lightbourne said.
“We’re here and started training and things are going well. We’re pleased with the way things are going.”
Bermuda are without several key players for their remaining World Cup qualifying group B matches.
Strikers Nahki Wells and Kane Crichlow were ruled out for reasons of rest and injury while centre half Jaylon Bather is suspended.
Other regulars such as Zeiko Lewis and Reggie Lambe are also not involved, forcing Lightbourne to go with a largely untested group at this level.
Surinam are almost unrecognisable from 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.
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.
After facing Surinam, Bermuda will then head to the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, to play Cayman Islands on June 8.