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Mixed feelings for coach Kyle Lightbourne following Concacaf Nations League draw

Dante Leverock, the former Bermuda captain, was at Monday’s Concacaf Nations League draw (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Head coach Kyle Lightbourne admits Monday’s draw for the Concacaf Nations League League B hasn’t been favourable for Bermuda with the country grouped together with Haiti, Guyana and Montserrat in group B.

“My initial thoughts from the beginning of that draw is here we go again,” Lightbourne told The Royal Gazette yesterday.

“I feel like it was a kick in the teeth because we dropped down from League A and we thought we would be a seeded team to miss out against the rest of the teams that came from League A.”

Lightbourne was referring to teams like Cuba, Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago who are seen as the top seeds in groups A, B and C.

“So why is it we are seeded with Haiti?” Lightbourne asked.

“The winners of the groups [in League B] go to the Gold Cup. We dropped down from League A and should have been a seeded team. Saying that we continue our rivalry with Haiti, who got the best of us and we’re really going to need to dig in and try to top this group.

“We don’t know the format of the games being played, as yet, home first or away first, so we’ll have to wait and see before we can put our full strategy in place.”

The other top-seeded team in League B is Guatemala who came up from League C and are placed in group D along with French Guiana, Dominican Republic and Belize.

The draw was televised live in Miami on Monday, with Dante Leverock, the former Bermuda captain, present for the made-for-TV event along with former players Paulo Wanchope, of Costa Rica, and Oribe Peralta, of Mexico, acting as draw assistants. Also present was Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president, and Philippe Moggio, the Concacaf general secretary.

Leverock’s name will forever belong in the history of Bermuda football, as he scored the first ever Gold Cup goal for the country in the 2019 Gold Cup in a 2-1 group stage defeat to Haiti.

The central defender, who is a player-coach for local side Robin Hood, scored six goals in 30 international games. He is still a part of Lightbourne’s national team plans, though he gave up the captaincy last year.

Leverock also enjoyed a stellar club career, playing for various European clubs such as Ireland’s Sligo Rovers and Radomiak Radom of Poland.

Ahead of the draw the Confederation’s 41 member associations were divided into three leagues based on the results of the inaugural Concacaf Nations League group stage in 2019 that included promotion and relegation between the leagues.

Also in League B with Bermuda are Cuba, Guadeloupe, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados (group A); Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Bahamas (group C) and Guatemala, French Guiana, Dominican Republic and Belize in group D.

The 2022-23 group stage will begin with home and away round robin matches during the Fifa international match windows of June 2022 and March 2023. The group stage will be followed by the Concacaf Nations League finals in June 2023, played between the four League A group winners. Concacaf will announce the competition’s schedule in the coming days, with venues and kick-off times will be confirmed at a later date.

The 2022-23 group stage will continue to serve as the qualifier for the 2023 Gold Cup. Following round robin group stage play, the League A group winners and runners-up (eight teams) and the four League B group winners (four teams) will guarantee their participation in the seventeenth edition of the Gold Cup.

Twelve other teams will have an opportunity to qualify for the tournament via the Gold Cup preliminaries. Those matches will include the third-place teams from the four groups of League A, the League B second-place finishers (four teams), and the four League C group winners.

Additional details regarding the 2023 Gold Cup preliminaries will be announced at a later date.

Concacaf announced the creation of the region’s men’s Nations League in 2018, with the intention of ensuring all member associations have the opportunity to compete in more official matches, driving the development of the game and providing a compelling tournament for fans in all parts of the Confederation.

The inaugural kicked off in September 2019 and culminated after 102 group-stage matches. The four League A group winners, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, and USA, took part in the 2021 Concacaf Nations League final in Denver, Colorado, where United States defeated Mexico 3-2.

Group stage draw:

League A

Group A: Mexico, Jamaica, Surinam

Group B: Costa Rica, Panama, Martinique

Group C: Canada, Honduras, Curaçao

Group D: United States, El Salvador, Grenada

League B

Group A: Cuba, Guadeloupe, Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados

Group B: Haiti, Bermuda, Guyana, Montserrat

Group C: Trinidad & Tobago, Nicaragua, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Bahamas

Group D: Guatemala, French Guiana, Dominican Republic, Belize

League C

Group A: Bonaire, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, St Maarten

Group B: St Kitts & Nevis, Aruba, St Martin

Group C: Saint Lucia, Dominica, Anguilla

Group D: Puerto Rico, Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands

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Published April 06, 2022 at 7:41 am (Updated April 07, 2022 at 8:04 am)

Mixed feelings for coach Kyle Lightbourne following Concacaf Nations League draw

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