Soccer

Lightbourne making all the right noises

  • Key member: Willie Clemons, the former BAA forward, is one of the professionals in the Bermuda team in Curacao to play Aruba this weekend (File photograph by Lawrence Trott)

Kyle Lightbourne has thrown caution to the wind and vowed to play attacking football during Bermuda’s opening Concacaf Nations League qualifying match against Aruba at the Stadion Ergilio Hato in Curaçao tomorrow.

The Bermuda coach emphatically declared his intentions to take the match to the opponents shortly before arriving on the Caribbean island yesterday, and he is confident that the Gombey Warriors can come away with a positive result against a country who are ranked ten places below Bermuda in the Fifa world rankings at 178th.

“The most important thing is to get off to a good start and we are drilling that into the players,” Lightbourne said.

“We are preparing against a team that we don’t know a lot about, but we have our game plan that we have set to play on the front foot against them.

“We have to assess very quickly who are their playmakers and where’s their strengths and weaknesses. Right away we need to do that and, if we need to adjust, then we adjust accordingly. Those are all basic things that you need to follow and we will be working hard to see if we can get any more information on Aruba.

“Everything that I checked seems to be from two or three years ago, so it’s indicating that they haven’t had that much activity, but we will keep trying.”

Tomorrow’s match, which kicks off at 7pm Bermuda time, has been moved to Curaçao because Aruba’s home venue is unavailable.

The match is Lightbourne’s first since being appointed in July as the permanent coach of Bermuda after performing the role on an interim basis for almost a year.

Coincidentally, his first match in charge during a previous stint as national coach was also against Aruba in the Caribbean Cup in 2004.

However, the fixture was never played because Aruba withdrew from the competition.

Lightbourne has made several changes to his squad from the one that played Antigua & Barbuda and Barbados in two friendlies in March, with Aaron Spencer, Liam Evans, the former Bermuda Under-20 captain, Jahkari Furbert, Razir Smith-Jones and London Steede-Jackson among the new faces drafted in.

“The new players have blended in quite well, working together, and now we will be looking to put the final touches on it when we get to Curaçao,” Lightbourne said.

The squad also boasts professionals such as Danté Leverock, William White, Willie Clemons, Zeiko Lewis and Reggie Lambe, the captain. Lightbourne put his players through their paces during a training camp in Miami this week, and he is encouraged by the level of enthusiasm, harmony and commitment to the task at hand that they demonstrated.

“We’ve had some very good sessions and meetings, and everybody is ready to go,” Lightbourne said.

“We are hoping everyone stays healthy between now and kick-off. That’s all we have to guard against now; make sure no one becomes sick or picks up injuries.”

After their match with Aruba, Bermuda will play back-to-back home matches against Sint Maarten and El Salvador, in October and November, before finishing the qualifying campaign with an away tie against Dominican Republic in March.

Those games will determine the three divisions for the Nations League, which starts in September 2019, as well as the ten remaining Gold Cup spots.

“I’m excited to get the Nations League under way,” Lambe, the Cambridge United forward, said. “It will be good for the national programme to have regular competitive games, to improve our ranking and get the best out of our players.”