Naquita Robinson explains Kenni Thompson’s absence for first qualifying matches
Naquita Robinson, the Bermuda women’s football coach, says it was not through lack of trying that caused English-based player Kenni Thompson to be missing from the squad for the first two Concacaf W Qualifiers this month.
Robinson came under scrutiny on social media after Thompson was left out of the 23-member squad for the upcoming matches on February 17 in Jamaica and fives days later against Cayman Islands, in Florida.
However, the coach said every effort was made to get the forward involved, and that she is confident that will be the case for the final two group matches against Grenada and Dominican Republic in April.
Robinson spoke to the player before this week’s article in The Royal Gazette when Thompson, who plays for London City Lionesses after spending most of her time in Spain, expressed interest in representing Bermuda internationally.
“Basically we had a conversation and initially we were hopeful that we would have her for this first round but, as the article said, she wants to focus on her club team at the moment,” Robinson said.
“She relishes the opportunity to play for Bermuda in the future, but it wasn’t that we didn’t select her. It was about her availability, and we hope that for the next rounds in April that she will be available.
“We understand a player’s position and, as she said, she is enjoying the opportunities she has with her club team.
“She wants to focus on the work she is doing with her club team, so I have to respect her position right now with regards to representing Bermuda. It’s not a case of her wanting to represent Bermuda and we’re not selecting her.”
The reaction on social media prompted Robinson to clarify the situation.
“People were sending out tweets, ‘the team was selected, how come Kenni Thompson wasn’t a part of the team’,” she stated.
“She’s now a part of the conversation, that’s not even a question. That’s a beautiful thing for us. We’re looking forward to when she’s ready and available.
“We want to shine with this group. It’s a lot of work being put in by these young ladies and they deserve to know that people have complete confidence in them.”
Thompson, a 21-year-old midfielder, joined London City from Spanish First Division club Santa Teresa last summer. The Lionesses sit second to Liverpool in the 12-team league.
Even without Thompson in the squad, Robinson believes this is the strongest squad of players selected for the senior national team since she became involved with the senior national team as assistant coach to Scott Morton in 2012.
“Probably ever, if I’m being honest,” said the former international who became the first female senior head coach in November that year.
“It’s not because the players in my era were not as good or as technical as this group. These girls have better opportunities than past generations. Concacaf has a lot of competitions in place.”
Robinson feels the sky is the limit with this crop of players, outstanding talent in all areas of the park with midfielder Eva Frazzoni and defender Marley Christian the co-captains.
“We’ve got LeiLanni [Nesbeth], Aaliyah Nolan, Nia Christopher, people who, I can tell you, in 2018 weren’t available,” Robinson added.
In an article posted this week in the Caribbean which rated the top young under-23 female players from each island, Nesbeth got the nod as the best Bermuda player. Robinson said Christopher is another player who has been outstanding for her country.
“That article said that LeiLanni is the best under-23 that Bermuda has, Nia Christopher is also looking the part,” the coach said.
“The good thing now is LeiLanni has a pass around her where she doesn’t have to shoulder all the responsibility, that they can help her to play her game. That’s now easier for us.
“What we are looking for is to see that we have progressed to a position where we can now compete with these teams. Covid is our biggest concern right now.”