Kyle Lightbourne: ‛We’ve got to leave it all on the pitch’
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, has urged his players to “leave everything on the pitch” in their do-or-die Concacaf Gold Cup preliminary second round match at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale tonight.
At stake is the right to join hosts United States, Canada and Martinique in the group stage.
Very little separated the teams the previous time they met at the 2019 Gold Cup, with Haiti coming from behind to edge Bermuda 2-1 in the opening match of their group, which included Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
That memory remains fresh in the memory of Lightbourne’s charges, who are now out to avenge that defeat in Costa Rica and punch their ticket to a second successive trip to Concacaf’s flagship tournament.
“We played Haiti two years ago and felt like we should have gotten something out of that match, so we’ll be up against them,” Lightbourne said. “It’s a one-off game, we have to leave everything on the pitch and give it all we’ve got.”
Lightbourne says he and his coaching staff have run the rule over their opponents.
“Looking at them, looking at their tapes, they’re strong, they play a couple of different ways,” he added. “They can wear you down with the ball, they can wear you down without the ball, so we have to be mentally ready and know the areas we want to attack. We’ve done some work on that and hopefully we get it right and take our chances.
“In the last match we didn’t take our chances against them, so we’re hoping that we can take our chances this time.”
Zeiko Lewis, the Bermuda forward, added: “Haiti has a lot of threats. They can attack from wide, they can attack through the middle, so we expect them to come with a mixed bag.
“Same way we can switch up our tactics on the go, I’m sure they can do the exact same. I think this game is going to come down to really a game of who wants it more.”
Bermuda and Haiti recorded convincing 8-1 and 6-1 victories over Barbados and St Vincent & the Grenadines respectively in the preliminary first round last Friday.
Lightbourne has a healthy squad to choose from and suggested he may tweak his starting line-up from the previous match against Barbados.
“The players that didn’t play the other night [against Barbados] look hungry, they look ready,” he said. “They are pushing the guys that started, so that’s what we want — everyone fighting for a spot. Expect a few changes tomorrow.”
Lewis says he and his team-mates are determined to make an immediate return to the Gold Cup.
“From our last Gold Cup we still have a little bit of a bitter taste,” the Charleston Battery forward said. “We gave everything we had but we feel as though we could have done better, so making it back is something we really want to do.”
The Gold Cup group stage comprises 16 countries and will be played in nine cities across the United States from July 10 to August 1.
Mexico are the defending champions and have won the tournament a record eight times.
Television: Flow Sports (Ch 420).
Referee: I Barton (El Salvador).
VAR: Á Monroy (Mexico).
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