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Kyle Lightbourne refusing to give up on top spot in group B

Remaining optimistic: Bermuda head coach Kyle Lightbourne (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Kyle Lightbourne is refusing to give up on Bermuda's Concacaf Nations League promotion and Gold Cup qualification aspirations ahead of a crucial clash against Montserrat.

Having got off to a positive start with a goalless draw against Haiti in their group B opener on Saturday, Bermuda’s ambitions were dealt a major blow on Tuesday, going down to a 2-1 defeat away to leaders Guyana, who strengthened their position at the top of the standings, having previously beaten Montserrat by the same scoreline.

Despite finding themselves five points adrift of Guyana, who in turn hold a two-point advantage over Haiti, Lightbourne is adamant his side are not yet out of contention for top spot, but warned victory on Saturday at the Olímpico Félix Sánchez stadium in the Dominican Republic is a must to maintain hope of fulfilling their ambitions.

“There are plenty of games left and points to play for,” said Lightbourne, whose Bermuda side face the same opposition in the reverse fixture at the Flora Duffy Stadium on Tuesday to complete this international window.

“We have back-to-back games against Montserrat and so if we win both, we’ll be on seven points and hopefully right back in the mix. It’s not over yet but we have to make sure we take care of our own results first and foremost, starting on Saturday.

“Haiti and Guyana have to play each other next and so that could be a crucial game for the outlook of the group. In my opinion top spot is not gone at all and if we can get a couple of victories we are right back in it.

“However, we can’t worry about that because we have to take care of our own results first. Matches are coming thick and fast and we have to prepare to make sure we get maximum points out of the next game.

While Saturday’s encounter appears to represent an ideal opportunity to get back on track against a side who have suffered successive defeats ― losing 3-2 to Haiti last time out ― Lightbourne is not taking anything for granted.

“We have a chance to make amends and our players know they have to give a better performance,” he added.

“By no means are we taking anyone for granted in this group and we know Montserrat will pose us with another different challenge. They are a very experienced side and have a lot of players based overseas. I have watched them a number of times and know they are a good side

“The travel situation is also not ideal and we will lose a day’s preparation. However, we have to get back up to speed as quickly as possible and make sure we give a much better account of ourselves.”

Reflecting back on the Guyana defeat, Lightbourne lamented not only his side’s lacklustre defending in the first half but also an inability to control proceedings for a sustained period throughout the match.

“Obviously we’re all disappointed with the result, it’s no secret to say we’ve played better,” he said.

“I was mostly disappointed with the first half. We didn’t play well at all and although we caused them some problems on the break, we never really hurt them. We started far too slowly and were a little fortunate not to further behind.

“In the second half we changed the shape to try and get back into the game but unfortunately it became too stop-start and we couldn’t build any momentum.

“We huffed and puffed but unfortunately we weren’t good enough in front of goal and were punished by two sloppy goals.”

To compound matters, the head coach conceded he may also be forced to adjust his game plan for Saturday’s match in the absence of centre half Jalen Harvey, who was sent off late on for being adjudged to have kicked out at Stephen Duke-McKenna after winning his tackle as last man.

“The incident happened so fast and so I didn’t quite see what happened,” he added. “I was told by the officials that the red card was for violent conduct and in fairness the referee was right on the spot, so he had a good view of it.

“The most disappointing thing from my point of view is that we lose another player for the next match and so it might mean that we have to rethink our formation and approach.”

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Published June 09, 2022 at 8:00 am (Updated June 09, 2022 at 5:45 pm)

Kyle Lightbourne refusing to give up on top spot in group B

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