Soccer

Bermuda to face Cuba ahead of crucial match

Bermuda will step up their preparations for their crucial Concacaf Nations League qualifier against the Dominican Republic with two warm-up games against Cuba this month.

Kyle Lightbourne’s side leave the island on February 23 and will face Cuba, who are ten places above them in the Concacaf rankings, in Havana on February 25 and 27.

“It should be a good run out for us,” Lightbourne said. “They have nine points [in the qualifying standings] and will be at home and will probably be able to have a strong team.

“We were hoping to play Cuba and the Cayman Islands, two teams who recently played against the Dominican Republic, but that didn’t quite work out.”

Both countries are coming off wins in their previous outings in the Nations League qualifiers.

Bermuda beat El Salvador 1-0 at the National Stadium last November, while Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic by the same scoreline at home.

Lightbourne will have to tweak his starting line-up from the one that upset El Salvador because of the unavailability of some key players. “This is not an international window, so it’s hard to get players who are under contract with their clubs,” he said.

“It’s going to be a mixture of players who have been in the squad but haven’t had much game time and those players who have been playing. I’m really going to be concentrating on specialised positions in these matches. That’s our main focus and that’s what I’ll be trying to get out of it.”

Bermuda are seventh in the qualifying standings and in a strong position with two wins from three games. The top ten teams advance to the Gold Cup, a competition Bermuda has never previously reached.

Lightbourne’s charges team are away to the Dominican Republic in their final qualifier at the Estadio Cibao on March 24.

PHC Zebras midfielder Tre Ming will miss that game as he is serving an automatic one-game suspension after picking up a second yellow card of the tournament against El Salvador.