‛Lejaun deserves the armband’, says congratulatory Nahki Wells
Lejaun Simmons says he is honoured and keen to lead Bermuda in battle in their remaining World Cup group B qualifying matches.
The Devonshire Cougars forward will make his debut as captain of the national team who face off with unbeaten hosts Surinam in their penultimate World Cup group qualifier at the Frank Essed Stadion in Paramaribo today.
“It’s definitely a huge honour to lead my country and I just want to thank the coaching staff for this opportunity,” Simmons told The Royal Gazette.
“Over the years playing for this country that’s the last thing I was ever expecting to do.
“Friends and family have expressed their excitement to me, and I’m well aware of the responsibility that comes with the role.
“There isn’t any added pressure on my back. I approach every game the same way and do all the things that help me and the team to get our minds geared in.”
Simmons will don the captain’s armband on an interim basis for the island’s remaining World Cup qualifying group B matches against Surinam and the Cayman Islands.
The role became vacant after Danté Leverock retired from international football last month.
“I think Lejaun being named captain for these fixtures is a great opportunity for him; a great decision from the coaching staff,” said Bristol City striker Nahki Wells, who is one of several key players missing from Bermuda coach Kyle Lightbourne’s squad.
“In the squad that we have, the selection of players, he’s probably the most experienced. He’s been involved in and around the national team for the last seven or eight years, so I think he’s very deserving of the opportunity.
“Obviously, it’s uncertainty over the captaincy going forward. But I think he totally deserves the armband for these fixtures and will represent well.”
Wells added: “He’s an experienced player, very professional and gives you his all. He’s not going to leave any stone unturned in regards to his efforts and dedication to the group of players.
“Huge congratulations to him. Hopefully he can captain us to a further two victories in the group and we can take that momentum into the Gold Cup and see where it takes us.
“I’m happy for him and happy he has been given this opportunity because hard work pays off and it’s a big moment to be the captain of your country, as I have before. So hopefully he takes it with both hands and Bermuda can do very well.”
Bermuda are third in group B behind Canada and Surinam, and will have no margin for error as failure to win tonight will end any chance of progressing.
“End of the day we’re here to play football; badge or no badge, the objective remains the same,” Simmons said. “We will be ready to go to battle.
“We know what Surinam are bringing and we will be ready come match day.”
Striker Kane Crichlow, centre half Jaylon Bather, midfielder Reggie Lambe and winger Zeiko Lewis are also unavailable, forcing Lightbourne to go with a largely untested group at this level.
The national team has had to quickly adjust to their surroundings after arrived in Surinam on Tuesday.
“Training has been going well and we will be going into these matches with confidence,” Simmons added.
Bermuda team lost 5-1 against Canada in their opening World Cup group B qualifying match on March 25 before bouncing back with a 5-0 win over Aruba five days later.
Lightbourne’s men will face Cayman Islands at the IMG Academy Complex in Bradenton, Florida, on June 8.
Canada top the group over Surinam on goal difference. Only the top team in the group will advance to the next round of qualifying.