Soccer

‘Key players could miss Jamaica friendly’

  • Bermuda Gold Cup Team Return Home. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Bermuda will likely be without some of their key players for their international friendly against Jamaica in Montego Bay next month.

The match will be played on March 11, a date which falls outside of the international break, meaning professional clubs will not be obligated to release their players for the friendly.

“This game is not quite in the window, it’s before the window, so it may have an impact on some of the players that are available,” Kyle Lightbourne, the Bermuda coach, said. “A lot of players are interested, but we have to do things the right way and speak to their clubs to see if it’s possible with some of the players.”

The next international break is from March 23 to 31.

Jamaica could be facing the same scenario.

“It’s going to be the same for Jamaica as well with their players under contract,” Lightbourne added. “In order for us to fit this game in, this was the opportunity we had to take.”

Lightbourne views the potential unavailability of his key players as an opportunity for others to try and stake a place in the squad in their absence.

“It gives us a chance to see some of the players that we have been thinking about for some time that didn’t quite make the squad,” Lightbourne said.

Jamaica are ranked 48th in the world, 120 positions above Bermuda in 168th.

Bermuda lost 3-2 to Jamaica in Kingston in a Caribbean Cup qualifier in the previous meeting between the two nations in 1997.

“Knowing how Jamaica play, they play an aggressive style and they can mix it up,” Lightbourne said.

“They can keep the ball on the floor and if they have to go rough and tough they can do that as well.

“I have seen both sides of their game. They have steadily improved over the years. They have been to the World Cup and reached the Gold Cup finals twice, so they are a quality team that push most of the teams in this region to the limit.”

The match will serve as ideal preparation for Bermuda’s upcoming Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers, as well as the resumption of the Nations League this year.

Bermuda reached for the Gold Cup for the first time last summer after finishing fifth in the competition’s qualifiers and recorded an historic 2-0 win over Nicaragua at Red Bull Arena in Jersey.

They were relegated from League A of the Nations League last November after suffering a last-minute 2-1 defeat away to Mexico in the final group game.

Lightbourne’s team will now face the winners between Bahamas and French Guiana in a home-and-away series in June for a place at the Concacaf Gold Cup next year, to be held at a venue yet to be confirmed.

“We got relegated from League A, which is not a disaster,” he added. “It was always going to be a fight to stay in League A, which was our aim, but we missed out on it by one goal or 70 seconds. A draw would have kept us in League A, but it wasn’t to be. However, we have another chance of making it back to the Gold Cup and that will keep the growth of our team going, which is the main thing.”