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Bermuda without LeiLanni Nesbeth for opening Gold Cup qualifiers

Notable omission: LeiLanni Nesbeth has been left out of the national squad for the first two fixtures of Gold Cup qualifying as she continues to recover from a hip injury

Bermuda women’s coach Naquita Robinson is confident her side can fulfil their aspirations of reaching the Gold Cup despite the absence of talismanic LeiLanni Nesbeth for the first two qualification matches.

Robinson has announced her squad ahead of hosting the Dominican Republic at Flora Duffy Stadium in their opening group C of League B encounter next Friday, before travelling to face St Vincent & the Grenadines four days later.

While disappointed with the absence of Nesbeth from her squad, the head coach believes it was not worth risking the forward, who is still recovering from a hip injury.

“Unfortunately LeiLanni has a slight pull in her hip flexor and initially we thought we may be able to get her ready for the games,” said Robinson, who also revealed she will be without strikers Nia Christopher and Jaden Masters for the second match because of commitments with their colleges in the United States.

“It was touch-and-go and knowing these matches are not a one-off, we didn’t want to risk it. She talked with the physiotherapists and we felt it was best to allow her to get through the next few months.

“We will also lose the services of Nia Christopher and Jaden Masters for the second game because they have to return to their colleges for matches.

“Unfortunately for us, Concacaf have scheduled these first fixtures in a tricky period for our players who are at college [overseas]. Some of the bigger nations allow for an international break, but we are not fortunate enough to have that.

“These things happen and we accept it. We planned for this because we knew it was a possibility.”

Despite the setbacks, Robinson is adamant there is enough quality with her squad to get off to a strong start in their ambition to seal qualification to the inaugural Gold Cup in the US, next year, by topping the four-team group that also includes Barbados.

“As well as LeiLanni, Nia and Jaden will be big misses, but we have the players to cope,” added Robinson, who highlighted the strong nucleus of the squad being made up of the same contingent that claimed gold at the Island Games in Guernsey in July.

“We have players who are just as capable to do the job and for the first time we feel that any player can step in at any time.

“We have notable players like Aaliyah Nolan, who has returned to the squad from injury and will look to step up and fill the void.

“Only LeiLanni and Emily Cabral are missing from the team that won gold at the Island Games and so the majority of this squad are buzzing to get back out there as a group.”

Robinson believes the opening opponents pose the biggest threat within the group as she spoke of the advantage of kicking off the campaign at home.

“We never negate any opponent, but we know that the Dominican Republic are a team we must conquer,” she said. “We are happy to have them first because it is very important for us, especially knowing we have to win the group.

“The players are in the right head space because they understand the importance of this match.

“No doubt we will have a big crowd. We anticipate a big crowd and we want to put on a good showing. We were very excited that the draw worked in that way in giving us our toughest opponent at home first.

“We have to start fast and look to take the game to them, rather than chasing it. We know they have players who can cause us problems, but we are prepared and we know what we have to do.

“We can’t go out there with any fear or be worried about what they are going to do to us; it’s what we can do to them. We have to be like that in every game, no matter who we are facing.”

Regardless of whether or not Bermuda fulfil their qualification ambition, Robinson reflected on the greater significance of having more international competition for her side and the development of the women’s game on island as a result.

“The exciting part for me is that as Bermudians we spend a lot of time looking up to players from other countries, and what this does is allow young girls on island to be able to look up to our own senior women’s team and saying ‘I want to be like her’,” she added.

“I want my under-15 players to be able to have a poster of someone like Eva Frazzoni, the national team captain, on her wall, as opposed to players from other countries.

“These girls have worked hard for a very long time and only now are they benefiting from their efforts.

“This year embarks on something magical and amazing for women’s football and we are very excited for our first Nations League tournament.

“That’s where we are now at and that is what competitions like this will do to build women’s football in Bermuda.”



Za’Khari Turner, Dominique Brown


Danni Watson, Koa Goodchild, Samara Darrell, Sierra Fisher, Taznae Fubler, Victoria Davis


Akeyla Furbert, Ashley Tutas, Che’-Chulae Dowling, Eva Frazzon, Jahdé Simmons, Jya Ratteray-Smith, Khyla Brangman, K’shaela Burch-Waldron, Trinae Edwards


Aaliyah Nolan, Jaden Masters, Jahni Simmons, Jazaé Smith, Nia Christopher, Symira Lowe-Darrell

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Published September 15, 2023 at 8:01 am (Updated September 16, 2023 at 8:07 am)

Bermuda without LeiLanni Nesbeth for opening Gold Cup qualifiers

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