Bermuda have been drawn with Costa Rica, Haiti and Nicaragua in the group stage of the Concacaf Gold Cup in June.
Kyle Lightbourne’s side, who qualified for the Gold Cup for the first time by finishing fifth in the Nations League qualifiers, will begin their maiden campaign against Haiti at the Estadio Nacional in San José, Costa Rica, on June 16. It will be the first Gold Cup match to be held in Central America.
Bermuda will then take on Costa Rica, who took part in the World Cup in Russia last summer, at the Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, the home of Major League Soccer side Dallas FC, on June 20. The island’s final group match will be against Nicaragua at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey, where New York Red Bulls play their home games, on June 24.
Lightbourne, who attended the draw at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles yesterday, said the biennial competition will help to accelerate Bermuda’s development as a football nation.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for our country,” said Lightbourne, who was joined at the draw by Bermuda Football Association official Anthony Francis.
“We are delighted to be in this competition and we’re going to embrace it and enjoy ourselves.
It’s something our players have worked hard for. We’re a developing country and we just want to keep developing and improving.
“We will have our challenges along the way but we will definitely come through it a better side on the other end.”
The Gold Cup has been extended from 12 teams to 16 teams split into four groups. The seeded teams are Mexico in group A, the United States in group B, Costa Rica in group C, and Honduras in group D. The remaining nations are Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, Martinique, Curaçao, Cuba, Guyana, Jamaica and El Salvador.
For the first time Jamaica will host a Gold Cup double-header at the National Stadium on June 17.
Bermuda won three and lost one of their Nations League qualifiers, including a 3-1 victory over the Dominican Republic in Santiago last month.
Victor Montagliani, the Concacaf president, said: “The love for football is demonstrated with every passing edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup. Bringing the 16-team Gold Cup to Costa Rica, Jamaica and the United States is a watershed moment for football in our confederation.
“This fifteenth edition will make the tournament more competitive and compelling for players and fans, while showcasing our region’s unity, passion for football and talent on the field.”
In the knockout rounds, the NRG Stadium in Houston and the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia will host two quarter-final matches each, on June 29 and 30 respectively.
The winning teams will move on to State Farm Stadium in Phoenix and Nissan Stadium in Nashville for the semi-finals. The final is scheduled to be played on July 7 at Soldier Field in Chicago.
June 16: Haiti (Estadio Nacional, San José, Costa Rica, 7pm)
June 20: Costa Rica (Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas, 10pm)
June 24: Nicaragua (Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey, 7.30pm)