Aruba 3 Bermuda 1
Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, made no excuses for his team’s comprehensive defeat against Aruba in their opening Concacaf Nations League qualifying match at the Stadion Ergilio Hato in Curaçao yesterday.
Bermuda had plenty of possession but were outgunned by Aruba, who put away the chances and showed greater defensive mettle.
“It wasn’t a good night at the office,” Lightbourne said. “We got off to possibly the worst start, two-nil down after 11 minutes.
“We tried to get a foot in the game and got it back to 2-1. We probably had a little bit more possession than them but possession doesn’t win games.
“In the first half they capitalised on their chances. It was very disappointing from that standpoint. I just told the guys, ‘If you don’t know that we are in a competition, you do know now’. Nobody is going to give us anything, we have to work hard to get it.
“It’s always a difficult spot when you lose, especially when you feel your team can play 90 per cent better than how they actually played. So we have to take this one and come back fighting.”
After the final whistle Danté Leverock and Willie Clemons were among the Bermuda players who took to social media to express their disappointment.
“Each player, including myself, needs to take a long look in the mirror,” Leverock tweeted.
“A poor performance in a Bermuda shirt is never OK.”
Clemons tweeted: “Definitely not the result we wanted. [It’s] disappointing as more could have been done and needs to be done, myself included.”
Bermuda found themselves chasing the game after two goals inside four minutes from Aruba’s Ronald Gomez and Raymond Baten.
Gomez opened the scoring when he rose inside the six-yard box and headed in a cross from the left side from Joshua John, who was making his debut for Aruba. Things went from bad to worse for Bermuda after Donte Brangman fouled Annuar Kock in the box and Baten stepped up to convert the penalty.
Bermuda eventually settled down and finally got a foothold in the match when striker Jonté Smith forced the ball across the line during a goalmouth scramble from Osagi Bascome’s free kick.
Aruba restored their two-goal cushion when John broke away down the left flank and teed up Erik Santos, who beat Bermuda goalkeeper Jahquil Hill with a shot from the edge of the box. The home side threatened to extend their lead shortly after the hour mark. Gomez created space for himself to fire off an angled shot that grazed the top of the bar.
Bermuda applied some pressure after making some tactical adjustments, but they were unable to penetrate Aruba’s defence
Lightbourne’s side 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.
Aruba (4-3-3): E Abdul — P Nickenson, J Vegas, L Dehlers, G Mulder — R Baten, E Gantos, S Rua, J John — R Gomez, A Kock, M Koopman
Bermuda (3-5-1-1): J Hill — D Usher, J Bather, D Leverock — D Brangman, O Bascome, T Ming, R Lambe, L Simmons — W Clemons — J Smith