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Rhode Island hand out harsh lesson to Bermuda Select XI

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Eyes on the ball: Bermuda's Jalen Harvey, right, controls the ball while being pursued by Prince Saydee of Rhode Island (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda head coach Michael Findlay is hoping that his young squad will learn lessons from their 8-0 friendly loss to Rhode Island at the Flora Duffy Stadium on Sunday night.

The squad of mostly locally based players proved no match for Bermudian coach Khano Smith’s USL Championship side, who displayed a flawless brand of passing football in front of a decent crowd to race into a 5-0 lead before the break and added three more goals in the second half.

Findlay, who has been working with the squad since last Monday, said his players had been given an insight into the skills and abilities needed to become successful international footballers.

“It was a lesson in realities,’’ Findlay said. “That’s exactly what we needed to present to these guys. The objectives of this event, this mini-camp for the domestic players was to put them in an unfamiliar situation.

“We wanted them to play against opposition that are full-time professionals and to present them with what the realities are of international football.

Blaiz Hall tries to get past Rhode Island’s Karifa Yao (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“From that point of view, we met our objective to try and get these players into positions they’re not used to. We also tried to roll the squad as much as we could because we want to give as many opportunities as possible for us as staff to assess these players.”

Findlay was disappointed by the result but was pleased that his players continued to fight throughout the 90 minutes.

“I just said to the players, if any of you walk out of here happy, then you probably shouldn't come back because we play to win,’’ Findlay told The Royal Gazette.

“But there are realities that we have to deal with and there are circumstances that present themselves.

Bermuda's Jai Bean pushes the ball while being watched by Rhode Island players (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“I was really happy that we saw everybody continuing the fight, there was nobody that was throwing in the towel. They did care and that’s a good sign.”

The heavy defeat underlined to Findlay the difficulties faced by players on island through a lack of exposure to professional training and coaching.

“Living and playing in Bermuda is difficult as you don’t live a high-performance lifestyle,’’ Findlay said.

“To play international football you need to live a high-performance life. That’s why we are focusing on the younger group and that’s what we’re sharing with the under-20 group. It’s all about them trying to live a high-performance life.

“Even if you’re not a full-time footballer, you can still act and train in a professional manner. It’s just a little bit difficult because you've got other realities to deal with.”

Bermuda will get the chance to avenge this defeat with another match against Rhode Island on Tuesday and Findlay is keen to see how his players respond to the heavy loss.

“What we’re looking for is opportunity for these players,’’ he said.

“Kenny Thompson and John Barry Nusum are part of the staff and they obviously work, train and coach on the island. They have a much better understanding of these players, but I don’t, which is why it was so important to have this event.

“Now, I've got a better understanding and that was done by wanting to play as many players as we can. On Tuesday, I want to see what the reaction is as our start in the first match was tentative.

“We were put into bad positions in early portions of the game and we were punished for it. The reaction we’re looking for includes being a little bit more aware and turned on to what is going on.”

Former Bermuda captain Smith was pleased with Rhode Island’s performance but is still focusing on improvements.

“I do think we had some good moments but there are a lot of areas that we can improve on,’’ Smith said.

“We could have been a lot better in possession and we could have moved the ball a lot faster.

“Our counter-pressing was good so I think a lot of our goals came from us winning the ball higher up the field, but I think we could have created more.”

Marco Warren's family are presented with a Rhode Island No 10 shirt (Photograph supplied)

Before the start of the game, Smith led a tribute to former Bermuda player Marco Warren, who died in May last year.

Rhode Island’s Albert Dikwa presented a No 10 shirt to Warren’s family and wore a blank jersey in honour of the departed Bermudian star.

“I knew Marco and I got to spend some time with him a few years ago when he was visiting Orlando while he was in school,’’ Smith said.

“He made an impact on me and he made an impact on the community. It’s obviously really sad what happened to him and hopefully his family gets justice for what happened.

“There is an initiative that is going on in Rhode Island to try and cut road fatalities down to zero by 2030 and there is no reason why a place like Bermuda shouldn't have that same sort of project and objective.

“It’s not a good thing that we just accept that people are going to lose their lives on the roads in Bermuda.”

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Published February 26, 2024 at 7:57 am (Updated February 26, 2024 at 7:57 am)

Rhode Island hand out harsh lesson to Bermuda Select XI

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