In-form Aaliyah Nolan playing huge role as Bermuda take aim at Gold Cup
Aaliyah Nolan is confident that she can help Bermuda qualify for the 2024 Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup.
The Lady Gombey Warriors remain on course to top League B group C, leading by a point over their nearest rivals Dominican Republic with two matches remaining, with Nolan playing a starring role.
The striker has been in peak form of late, scoring three goals in her past two international appearances, including a brace in the 4-2 win over Barbados at Flora Duffy Stadium this month.
“I am very confident that we can achieve the goal of topping the group and going all the way to the Gold Cup,” Nolan told The Royal Gazette. “We are undefeated and top of the group with everyone chasing us.
“Hard work, dedication and the bonding of our team has brought our success. We have good chemistry.”
Nolan is enjoying her football, especially when playing for Bermuda and has worked hard to recover from a serious knee injury.
“I was injured for a while and that stopped me from playing,” she said. “I worked to get back fit and now I'm just happy to be representing my country once again in a major tournament and give it my all.
“It is an honour to play for Bermuda and not everyone gets the opportunity to say they have represented their country. The future is in very good hands, especially with the group of girls we have.”
The 26-year-old is now an integral part of the squad as they prepare for matches against St Vincent & the Grenadines at Flora Duffy Stadium on Friday and Dominican Republic, in Santo Domingo, on Tuesday.
Bermuda thrashed winless St Vincent 4-0 in the first meeting between the two countries in September and are the firm favourites to come away victorious again in this week’s return fixture, but Nolan will not be taking the opposition lightly.
“We went there and won 4-0 with not all of our players, but we won't take them for granted as each game is a different game,” she said.
“We will step foot on the field and show everyone what we have been doing through these qualifiers.”
As well as Bermuda, Nolan has also thrived playing for Bradford City in England.
“It's really great playing for Bradford,” said Nolan, who has scored six goals for City this season.
“The atmosphere around the ground is awesome. The players and coaching staff make playing very enjoyable, as it should be, but we always have a competitive edge.”
Bermuda coach Naquita Robinson has made eight changes to her squad from the one that represented the island in the previous home and away group matches but she knows she can rely on Nolan.
“Aaliyah is a player we know we will always get 100 per cent from,” Robinson said.
“Over the years, she has scored many goals for us and has continued that in this campaign. She is always willing to work hard for the team and has matured in the game both with her attitude and all-around playing.”
Among those coming into Robinson’s latest aquad are Kenni Thompson, Nia Christopher, Danni Watson, Ashley Tutas, Zemira Webb, Katherine Bean-Rosario, Christia Lugo-Elibox and Micah Pond.
K-Shaela Burch-Waldron, Kennesha Nanette, Jahzyiah Samuels, Jazae Smith, Akeyla Furbert, Samara Darrell and Kalay Hollis were those to drop out, and Robinson will be forced to make at least one change for the St Vincent game after midfielder Khyla Brangman was sent off for a second bookable offence in the second half of the island’s last qualifier against Barbados.
The eventual group winners will advance to the play-off stage where they will face one of the runners-up from League A.
The winner of that encounter will qualify for the inaugural Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup, which will be held in the United States from February 20 to March 10, and will feature eight Concacaf and four South American teams.