Nahki Wells urges Bermuda to kick on against Guyana
Nahki Wells has challenged his Bermuda team-mates to take all three points against Guyana in order to keep their Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup aspirations in their own hands.
Having held group B favourites Haiti to a goalless draw in their opening encounter at the Flora Duffy Stadium on Saturday, Kyle Lightbourne’s side will be aiming to build on that positive foundation against group leaders Guyana at the National Track and Field Leonora Stadium today.
While Wells concedes victory is by no means guaranteed, he is well aware that of the added incentives of clinching top spot, which would not only secure promotion back to League A but also guarantee qualification to the Gold Cup.
“The aim now is to go to Guyana and take all three points,” he said. “We’ve had a positive start and not allowed Haiti to open a gap over us in the group. That gives us a chance to compete for top spot because it’s in our hands.
“We’re under no illusions because we know every match will be just as tough but we have given ourselves a chance. It’s about us all taking responsibility and doing the best we can to achieve our aims.
“We all want to get back to League A where we feel we belong and play at a level we all feel we can.
“We were promoted from League B and were able to qualify for the Gold Cup, so we’re back at the same level where we started — maybe in a tougher group, having Haiti in our group now.
“Maybe League B was an easier group before they changed the format. If we can get back into League A, we will be punching above our weight. We’re a small nation and it’ll be a great gain to get into League A; that’s our aim.
“If we do win group B, we would automatically qualify for the Gold Cup, and if we don’t do that, the plan is to go to the qualifying group and do it that way. We have no plan of staying in this league. The plan is to get out of this league, and we believe we are capable of doing that and playing at that [higher] level.”
Saturday’s match offered the 32-year-old a rare opportunity for extended game time, having endured a frustrating domestic season with Bristol City, where he was forced to settle for bit-part opportunities, mostly from the bench, throughout the Sky Bet Championship campaign.
Despite his disappointment, Wells is determined to use it as a catalyst to prove a point on the international stage and help his nation achieve their ambitions.
“It’s been a frustrating season domestically for myself but I’m using that to try to do all I can to help propel the national team,” added Wells, who believes Bermuda had just as much right to feel disappointed not to have taken maximum points. “I felt good out there; obviously it’s not ideal coming into a game on the back of less football than I would have liked, but I felt like I grew into the game and I felt confident.
“We created a few big chances and although they dominated for periods, we can also feel disappointed not to have won. However, we’ll take a point against a team like Haiti because they are the big favourites in this group.”
Meanwhile, Lightbourne has confirmed that forward Luke Robinson is back in contention to feature against Guyana, having been forced to miss the previous match with a knee injury.
“Luke will be travelling with us; unfortunately the Haiti game came a little too soon for him to play a part,” he said. “He had a knee issue but the results have come back fine and so he will be travelling with the rest of the squad.”
The Bermuda head coach also took the opportunity to praise Daniel Cook, who enjoyed an encouraging debut at left back in the goalless draw.
“I’ve watched Daniel all season and I’ve always been impressed with his workrate and his quality to be able to keep the ball,” said Lightbourne of the Robin Hood defender.
“He had a very positive debut, but now he has to keep going and learn from each performance. It is the job of myself and the coaches to keep him grounded and help him continue to grow at this level.”
Guyana kicked off the campaign with a 2-1 victory over Montserrat after a brace from Omari Glasgow completed a second-half turnaround at the Olímpico Félix Sánchez stadium in the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
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