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‘If I had the chance to choose the group, I would have chosen this one’

Michael Findlay boosted by Nations League draw

National football coach Michael Findlay believes Bermuda could not have asked for a better Nations League group in their quest to qualify for next year's Concacaf Gold Cup.

Bermuda were this week drawn against Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica in Group D of League B with fixtures to be held across three international windows in September, October and November.

While fully aware of the threat posed by their group rivals, Findlay is thrilled to have avoided Haiti and Curacao, who were both relegated from the top tier and has confidence in his side's prospects of topping the group, which would not only earn promotion but also a place at the Gold Cup for only the second time.

“I’m really pleased with the draw, specifically the fact that we avoided some of the more experienced teams who were all relegated from League A,” said Findlay.

“That’s no disrespect to any of the teams in our group because by no means will we be able to take any of them for granted, but if I had the chance to choose the group we had, I would have chosen this one.

“To qualify for the Gold Cup would be incredibly exciting and mean so much for everyone involved. It would be an incredible experience and really important for Bermuda.

“It would give us a chance of playing in a world-class competition again and that can only be a major benefit.”

Under a new initiative from Concacaf, group matches will be played at a centralised venue in each window to alleviate possible travel challenges posed within the region.

While that means Bermuda will host one less home match than they otherwise would have, Findlay has backed the initiative, highlighting the added opportunity for football fans to watch an extra game within the group when fixtures are played on island during the October window.

“I’m happy with the restructuring of the tournament because foremost it limits the amount of travel that the players will have to do,” Findlay said.

“That gives the players a consistent environment during the international windows and not only is that best for the health of the players, but I also think it helps us in our aim of qualifying for the Gold Cup.

“While it means that we will have one less home fixture in Bermuda, it does give fans the chance to see an extra fixture and have the opportunity to see the other teams in the group play one another.”

Before the Nations League, Findlay's side will first be trying to take a major step towards qualification for the 2026 World Cup.

In the second stage of the Concacaf qualification process, Bermuda have been placed in group A, with the campaign opening with a trip to Antigua & Barbuda before hosting group favourites Honduras during the first window next month.

The second fixture window in June 2025 will include the visit of Cayman Islands before concluding with an away game against Cuba, and Findlay has welcomed the greater abundance of competitive internationals and the benefits it will have on the national team.

“It’s great that we have the opportunity to play far more consistently than what we otherwise might have done,” he said.

“In the past smaller nations didn’t always have competitive matches but on the back of the previous Nations League campaign. we are now getting straight back into another competition.

“Now, with every tournament, we are playing in matches that mean something because we are trying to qualify for one tournament or another.

“That is really exciting for us all and raises the level of everyone, not just the players, but the association as a whole.

“Playing more fixtures more regularly is really important for us and can only be a benefit to the national team.”

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Published May 17, 2024 at 8:00 am (Updated May 17, 2024 at 6:37 pm)

‘If I had the chance to choose the group, I would have chosen this one’

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