X-Roads will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Dashun Cooper for their upcoming matches against promotion rivals BAA and St David’s.
Cooper is on international duty with the Bermuda Under-20 team for the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in Costa Rica, which starts this weekend, and will miss at least the next two matches.
His loss serves as a blow to second-placed X-Roads who are trying to reach the Premier Division for the first time. They are two points behind leaders Young Men’s Social Club.
They do, however, have a capable back-up goalkeeper in Karl Brown, who joined the team this season from fourth-placed BAA.
The match at Garrison Field on Sunday against his former club could take X-Roads a step closer to promotion, while at the same time it would virtually eliminate BAA from the race.
“We do have a safety goalkeeper so I’m not too worried about it,” Farid El Karfa, the X-Roads coach, said.
“Karl Brown was the goalkeeper for BAA last season and he has been an outfield player this season with us. We used him once or twice in goal as the back-up goalkeeper.”
BAA are without a couple of players on the same trip to Costa Rica, midfielders Paul Douglas and Jahkari Furbert. Kenny Thompson’s team still have a game in hand against St David’s, two games they must win if they are to stay in contention for one of the top two spots.
“At this point every single game is important, but I agree the next two games are extra important,” El Karfa admitted.
“We are ready for the challenge, we are comfortable that we will be able to keep the momentum going. My team is ready for another battle and the next two games will be just as difficult as the one with St George’s.
“If we win three more matches that will guarantee promotion and then we’ll see what happens with the league title. But that’s going to be a bonus, to be honest, the main priority is promotion.”
Together with Social Club, X-Roads have the best defensive record in the division, conceding just 14 goals in 13 league matches, while St George’s have conceded 15.
X-Roads have lost just twice in the league, both to Social Club who remain unbeaten.
“Defensively we’ve been quite solid, we did a lot of work as a defensive organisation and the team has been organised defensively,” El Karfa said.
“The results have proved that and hopefully we can keep that record.
“We cannot get carried away, nothing is confirmed yet so we’ll keep playing the type of game we’ve been playing and keep the same attitude and same character.”
X-Roads are also still in the FA Cup, where they will meet Dandy Town in the quarter-finals, by which time they could have clinched promotion. Their final league matches in March are against Ireland Rangers, Wolves and Paget Lions.
“The FA Cup is not a priority for us this season, but if something comes out of it then it will be a bonus as well,” said El Karfa, whose side knocked out Premier Division side Devonshire Colts in the previous round. It’s absolutely not our main objective.”
Social Club play mid-table Paget at PHC Field on Sunday while St David’s travel to Southampton Oval to take on a Southampton Rangers side who have been slumping lately.
Hamilton Parish play St George’s at Wellington Oval while Ireland Rangers host Wolves at Malabar Field.