Nahki Wells spreads the wealth after going from 0 to hero in 17 seconds
Nahki Wells refuses to take all the credit for his record-breaking exploits during Bermuda’s landslide victory against Barbados in the Concacaf Gold Cup preliminary first round at the DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale last Friday.
The Bermuda captain scored the fastest goal in tournament history at 17 seconds to give Kyle Lightbourne’s team a dream start.
Straight off the training ground, the kick-off was played ahead with Bermuda’s players moving forward together at pace before the Barbadians could gather themselves, with Willie Clemons’s surge between two would-be tacklers the key.
Wells timed his run into the box to perfection to tap in Zeiko Lewis’s low, first-time cross at the far post.
The goal was initially ruled offside but the decision was later reversed by VAR.
“I’m over the moon to be a part of one of the fastest goals in international football,” Wells told The Royal Gazette. “It’s a great achievement and something that I believe Bermuda can take recognition for as opposed to Nahki Wells.
“Obviously I scored the goal but Bermuda scored the fastest goal in Gold Cup history because it took everyone and it was a very well team-worked goal. I take a lot of pride in expressing that it is important that at we all take credit for that moment.”
Bermuda coach Lightbourne added: “We spoke about how we wanted to attack them in the wide areas. We know that their back four defend flat all the time and we exposed that side of them early on in the game.
“I am thankful for VAR because it was a tight call. It was important for us to get off to a good start because it gives us the momentum and puts them on the back foot.
“That goal could have been chalked off if it wasn’t for VAR; the first time we have had interaction with it, so it allowed us to build momentum.”
It proved to be a memorable night in many ways for Bristol City striker Wells, who went on to achieve a maiden hat-trick in international football.
Wells doubled Bermuda’s advantage and his personal tally when he flicked Lewis’s low shot with his back to goal standing inside the six-yard box.
He then completed his hat-trick shortly before the final whistle from the penalty spot after being tripped up in the box.
His first effort was saved. However, the kick was ordered retaken after Barbados goalkeeper Liam Brathwaite was discovered by VAR to have moved off his line early.
“I am delighted with my first international hat- trick,” Wells added. “I would have loved to have scored the hat- trick in the first half. I think I should have because I had a very good opportunity that I didn’t take.
“But I stayed patient and positive and kept trying to get myself in positions and thankfully I was able to earn a penalty and then dispatched it at the second attempt.
“It was a great moment in my career because I have always wanted an international hat- trick. I am very happy to have achieved that.”
Reggie Lambe, Danté Leverock, substitute Kane Crichlow, Lewis and a Krystian Pearce own goal accounted for Bermuda’s remaining tallies in the 8-1 thrashing of Barbados, who replied through captain Hadan Holligan.
“It was a very convincing win for us, the biggest win that I have been involved in as captain and as a player, and it was a lot of positives to take away,” Wells said. “It was a very dominant performance and it could have been more.
“We would have loved to have kept a clean sheet. But we can’t be too critical because we achieved the desired result and so we have to be proud of ourselves in that regard.”
The 31-year-old striker says he and his team-mates are now up for tomorrow’s match against Haiti for the right to progress to the Gold Cup proper.
“We are all excited about the task at hand with the next fixture with Haiti,” Wells added. “We know it’s going to be a very difficult game and we have to be at 100 per cent if we are to progress to the group stage.
“We have been through this adversity before and overcome teams in front of us, and that’s totally what we will be looking to do in Tuesday’s fixture.”