‛Nowhere near good enough’ rants frustrated Bermuda coach Kyle Lightbourne
Coach Kyle Lightbourne was relieved to get a draw with Cayman Islands as Bermuda’s World Cup campaign ended in disappointing fashion in Bradenton, Florida, in the midnight hour of Tuesday.
Bermuda avoided further humiliation after last week’s 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Surinam when striker Kole Hall’s first international goal midway through the second half wiped out the lead given to Cayman Islands by Mark Ebanks in the 23rd minute.
Lightbourne admitted it was a match Bermuda would be usually expected to win, but, with nothing at stake, Cayman made it difficult for Bermuda and looked the better team despite losing their first three matches in group B. Bermuda made five changes to the team which lost to Surinam.
“With our chances of qualifying gone we had to take the opportunity to look at a number of players within our squad and see what they were capable of at this level,” Lightbourne explained.
“In normal circumstances we should definitely be beating a side like that, I’m in no doubt about that, but I had to have a look at certain players.”
One of them, Detre Bell, who replaced Dale Eve in goal, certainly did no harm to his international chances with a solid performance.
“Cayman should have scored two or three more and we were thankful to Detre for making a number of really good saves,” the coach said. “Collectively, we were nowhere near good enough; it’s as simple as that.
“For some reason we didn’t make the most of some certain opportunities to create in the final third. Once they went ahead, it became difficult for us, particularly the longer it took for us to get back on level terms.
“Credit to them, they looked dangerous and could have won it. Quality-wise, we just weren’t good enough.”
The campaign has not been an easy one for the teams because of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to Bermuda not playing either of their two scheduled matches at home. The coach also faced challenges in naming his preferred XI, as the last two matches saw several key players missing.
“In terms of the competition as a whole, we started in the right way and preparation was going well until that first training trip to Florida,” Lightbourne said. “Then it become a nightmare.
“Dealing with the Covid issues and regulations, it meant our preparation was totally affected and it made preparations difficult for everyone — the staff, the players, the association. Everyone was handicapped from then on.
“We couldn’t train properly and it meant we couldn’t build any real momentum when we really needed it, and that proved to be a killer.”
The heart of the Bermuda defence was missing two key players for the Surinam and Cayman matches after captain Danté Leverock announced his retirement from international football midstream, and Jaylon Bather was missing because of a one-match suspension.
“It became an uphill battle and we found ourselves in a situation of seeing which players were able to be a part of it,” the coach said.
“Some players have done themselves justice and others perhaps could have done more. I would never single out players, but what I would say is that as a collective we need to be better and be fully ready for the next tournament.
“We all know in particular those last two games were not good enough.”
Bermuda has three weeks to prepare for their Concacaf Gold Cup play-off match against Barbados on July 2 when Lightbourne hopes to have several key players available as they look to put a disappointing World Cup campaign behind them.
“Our next game is arguably the biggest for me as Bermuda coach,” he admitted.
“We made the Gold Cup before and qualified as underdogs. We went under the radar and teams didn’t really know about us; but they know all about us now.
“It will be a tough game and we have to make sure that we are clear in how we approach the match and exactly what we expect of the players who will be involved.”
Lightbourne confirmed changes will be made, with striker Nahki Wells already stating his desire to be included after missing all of the World Cup programme.
“What I will say right now is that the team who played in our previous two matches is not the one who will face Barbados,” Lightbourne said.
“We have to assess where certain players are at very quickly and make a plan for that game because everything is on the match against Barbados.
“A number of players are in Bermuda right now training and getting ready for that match. As soon as we get clearance from the Government, we will get back together and start again.”