Big fish await as Bermuda clinch place at Concacaf U-17 championship despite loss
Bermuda 2 Guyana 3
Bermuda secured their place in the Concacaf Under-17 Championship despite losing their final qualifying match in Bradenton, Florida on Wednesday.
Heading into the match, Cecoy Robinson’s charges led group A with 12 points and a far superior goal difference over second-placed Bonaire and needed only a draw going into their last round-robin match with Guyana to mathematically seal the deal.
Despite conceding their first goals in the tournament and suffering their only loss in the competition, qualification for next February’s big tournament was assured when their closesst rivals Bonaire had their match against Bahamas cancelled shortly before its scheduled start.
Concacaf organisers have yet to explain why that fixture was not fulfilled and are yet to officially confirm Bermuda as group winners but competition rules state “if two or more teams are equal their ranking will be determined by greater goal difference in matches between the tied teams”.
Bermuda coach Robinson was delighted that the pressure was off ahead of the last game but was still disappointed with the outcome.
“It definitely was not the result we were looking for,” Robinson told The Royal Gazette. “But hats off to the boys for their hard work, dedication and sacrifice to put us in the best possible position that we could be in.
“With the Bonaire and Bahamas game cancelled, that puts us through to the next round.”
Bermuda were keen to maintain their perfect record in their final game but were forced to chase the match after Shemaiah Samuels gave Guyana the lead in the 25th minute.
Christopher Whitter then pounced nine minutes later to put the island’s opponents firmly in the driver’s seat before Bermudian midfielder Daion Swan-DeSilva pulled one back in the 38th minute.
Guyana restored their two-goal advantage when Whitter grabbed his second in the 69th minute before winger Hayden Dill converted from the penalty spot to reduce the arrears to 3-2 and keep Bermuda in the hunt.
Robinson’s team pressed for the equaliser late but were unable to make further inroads and gave up their unblemished record.
While delighted to see his team achieve its primary objective, Robinson concedes there is still room for growth as his players brace for tougher battles ahead at the Championship to be held in Guatemala next February.
“The work just starts now,” he declared. “We have to be better and we know what we need to work on.
“I had a talk with them and this defeat is part of the adversity that is going to help us to be stronger in the long run.
“So for now it’s enjoying the moment before putting our heads back down to work.
“We have things we need to look at and be better at because when we get to the next level the level is definitely going to increase as well.”
Bermuda recorded convincing victories against British Virgin Island (4-0), Saint Martin (9-0), Bonaire (2-0) and Bahamas (4-0) in their remaining group matches.