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Guyana determined to complete Nations League double over Bermuda

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National pride: Captain Sam Cox is desperate to help lead Guyana to Concacaf Gold Cup qualification

Guyana captain Sam Cox has warned that his side are determined to complete a Nations League double over Bermuda this weekend.

The two sides will renew rivalry at Flora Duffy Stadium on Saturday in an encounter that could have a major bearing on the final group standings. After prevailing 2-1 in the previous meeting between the sides in June, second-placed Guyana hold a two-point advantage over Bermuda heading into the penultimate match of the group stages.

With just three points separating Guyana, who occupy one of the 24 Gold Cup preliminary round qualification spots, and bottom-placed Montserrat, the magnitude of the match is not lost on Cox.

“There is a lot riding on the result for both teams,” said Cox, who plays for Welling United of the National League South in the sixth tier of English football.

“It’s funny, I was on the flight over with Nahki Wells and we were talking about how unpredictable the group has been.

“Even though we beat Bermuda before and we come into the match second in the group, I wouldn’t say we’re favourites. We both need the win and we know Bermuda will be fighting for their lives to stay away from relegation.

“Of course we respect every team we face but we also come into the match with a lot of confidence and belief because we have a real togetherness and unity among the squad.

“We’re coming into their backyard and we have to respect that, but we know what the task in hand is, we’ll be fighting for nothing less than victory because we also need the three points to keep us in with a chance of getting to the Gold Cup again.

“Getting to the Gold Cup for the first time in 2019 really helped put the country on the map and obviously we’d love to get back to the main stage again.”

Rivalry resumed: Guyana captain Sam Cox, left, will likely go head-to-head with Bermuda striker Nahki Wells once again (File photograph by Blaire Simmons)

Cox leads a squad that boasts twelve overseas-based players, including talented forward Omari Glasgow, of Chicago Fire in Major League Soccer, who scored the winner in the last meeting between the sides, as well as a crop of players based in England including Bayli Spencer Adams (Leicester City Under-23s), Liam Gordon (Walsall), Tre Medford (Boston United), Elliot Bonds (Cheltenham), Johnny Grant (York United), and Jaylen Jones (Cray Wanderers).

While Guyana are going through somewhat of a transition under the guidance of coach Jamaal Shabazz, Cox is keen to highlight the new-found strength in depth of the national side.

“It’s great to look around the squad and see the depth that we have,” added Cox, who believes the previous Gold Cup run encouraged more talented youngsters to declare for the country.

“That’s shown by the fact that we have some real quality despite missing a few players through injury.

“We are definitely in a transitional phase and have had two managers since 2019, but there’s more depth in the team than we had before. We’ve got players in the MLS and from across the football League in England, including at academies within Premier League teams.

“I think the Gold Cup appearance last time showed people what we are capable of and talented players are now declaring for Guyana from a young age, which is really pleasing because it shows they want to come and play for the nation.

“We’ve also had a surge of locally-based players, who as well as having quality are really hungry to succeed.

“When I first got involved with the national team back in 2015, I always had a vision that when I eventually retire I wanted to leave with it in a better place than when I started. I definitely feel like progress has been made and while there is still work to do, I can look back with pride with the depth of quality in the squad now.”

Turning his attention to Bermuda, Cox sees similarities between the two sides, with Kyle Lightbourne’s side also introducing a number of young players trying to establish themselves in the national squad.

“I think Bermuda are definitely in a similar situation to us at the moment,” he said. “They have had success in the recent past but now it looks like they have some good promising talent coming through in place of some of the older players, who are perhaps making their way out.

“It’s interesting because sometimes those young players can be a bit of a surprise package and a real success. I’m in no doubt Bermuda will go on to achieve what they’re aiming to do because they still have a lot of quality.

“We certainly won’t be taking anything for granted because we’re expecting nothing but a difficult game.”

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Published March 24, 2023 at 7:43 am (Updated March 24, 2023 at 7:43 am)

Guyana determined to complete Nations League double over Bermuda

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