Soccer

Bermuda a ‘great experience’ for West Ham

  • Safety first: Quinaceo Hunt, the Bermuda Under-19 goalkeeper, gathers the ball as defender Zuhri Burgess shepherds it back while under pressure from West Ham Under-17 striker Emmanuel Longelo at the National Stadium on Sunday. West Ham won 4-1 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Terry Westley, the West Ham United academy director, believes his players will grow from the full range of experiences they gained during the Bermuda Invitational Football Festival.

West Ham finished the festival unbeaten with three victories and a draw, ending with a 4-1 win over Bermuda Under-19s at the National Stadium on Sunday.

“It’s been a great experience,” Westley said. “The game on Friday [a 5-3 victory over São Miguel, of the Azores] was really hostile.

“We were losing, we came back, and the boys showed some real grit as young players to come through it.

“Collectively, with a game like tonight [Sunday], a technical game, and a high-intensity game on Friday night, it’s been a good trip for us.

“The experience of the whole trip, testing the boys’ behaviour on and off the pitch, is all part of what we do.”

Westley said he was encouraged by how his players coped with the physical demands of playing four matches in a week.

He also singled out captain Jade Mingi, who was imperious in the heart of the West Ham defence, for special praise.

“We didn’t bring that many players over and we only had one sub [on Sunday],” he said. “In the second half [Bermuda] came more into it as we tired.

“Jade, our captain for the day, was outstanding. He really stood out as did our No 10 Bernardo Rosa.

“They’re our first-year players and have been in the building for one year. We really needed them and thankfully they stood up to the challenge.”

Although Westley agreed with the assessment of his opposite number, Ray Jones, that Bermuda’s finishing was their downfall, he was impressed with their attitude and athleticism.

“Bermuda stuck with it,” Westley said. “They’re very athletic and got themselves into good positions but their finishing let them down a little bit.

“We made the ball work a bit better and caused Bermuda a lot of problems in the first half.

“Their coach kept trying to get them to press, but we moved it too quickly, particularly during the first half.”

Westley added: “I think that was the best we’ve played [in the festival] in terms of our technical play. We passed it really well.

“Maybe, tactically, in the first half we caused them problems as we were trying to play with two No 10s and they weren’t sure who to push into.”

Westley, who succeeded Tony Carr as West Ham’s academy director in 2014, said he hopes to bring an academy team to the island for next year’s festival.

“We’d like to come back 100 per cent,” he said.

“The hospitality and welcome we’ve had has been unbelievable.”