Guyana, Bermuda clash a good test ahead of Gold Cup
At a joint press conference hosted ahead of their Thursday night (June 6) International Friendly at the Bermuda National Sports Center, the respective Head Coaches of both the host nation Bermuda and visitors Guyana have expressed that the match is about getting it right ahead of their debuts at this summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup.
The two nations have a lot in common as they continue their walk into history, the first time they have both qualified for the highest possible tournament in the Confederation.
Guyana has been drawn in Group D along with the USA, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, while Bermuda is in Group B alongside Haiti, Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
Sharing the head table were respective Head Coaches and Captains, Guyana’s Michael Johnson and Sam Cox and Bermuda’s Kyle Lightbourne and Dante Leverock with the moderator being Bermuda Football Federation (BFA) Press Officer, Antoine Augustus.
Johnson explained that Guyana would not be leaving its fate up to another country: “We just want to look after business ourselves, we can’t start looking and focusing on other teams and what they do and how they do. We’ve just got to go about our business and make sure we are mentally prepared, physically prepared and when we go out there, to perform at the standards that we know we are capable of doing. If we do that, where that takes us, we are more than happy.”
Johnson, who would be making his debut as a Coach at the Concacaf Gold Cup having represented Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz as a player in 2010, noted that Guyana would not be showing much from a strategic stand point as opposing teams would be on the hunt for information.
“Are we going to go out and show our formation, our personnel and the players that are going to start, absolutely not; we would be wrong to do that knowing that the likelihood is that US, Panama and Trinidad would all be looking at this game,” Johnson said.
“What we want to do is make sure we are moving and progressing in the right way, the players are looking as sharp and physically ready within the formation that we are going and play,” he added.
He reminded that it is not about Guyana’s strongest team or starting eleven as of yet as this would come for the opening Concacaf Gold Cup match: “A lot of it is just individual units, just making sure that things are clicking and all the players are in good nick.”
Lightbourne shared his thoughts on his aim for the Gold Cup: “We’re new to the competition, we’re a nation that’s growing so we are looking for a good performance from our players. If we play to our ability that we know we can play; don’t be afraid of the occasion, enjoy it and maybe put a couple teams on the back foot, that’s what we are looking for at this stage.”
Commenting directly on Thursday’s friendly, Lightbourne noted that they are expecting to see what they have been working on during training being executed in offense and defense: “All the stuff that we’ve been working on we hope that we can see come out in this match, that’s the main priority of this match.”
Golden Jaguars’ Captain Cox said that Guyana is looking forward to the match and is expecting a tough challenge from Bermuda but suggested that the encounter would be used to build relationships: “…see what we are like in and out of possession and build towards the Gold Cup but we know it’s going to be a competitive fixture and one that we are all looking forward to. Players have all got their heads on it, the focus is on the next two to three weeks but Thursday is going to be a brilliant exercise for both sides for sure.”
Bermuda’s skipper Leverock said there is a good buzz around his team sharing that the majority of the players have been training for the past month putting in the hard work: “It’s just excitement now around the country and for us we want to put on a show, to show that we did not just qualify out of luck or whatever. It’s a big opportunity for us, even the professional players, some of the local players, some of the guys who are trying to get into professional teams, it’s a big shop window for us.”
Leverock, who plays in Ireland with Sligo Rovers FC, posited that they do believe that they can beat anyone on the day, “we are excited and we are ready to go now.”
Both Coaches agreed that the main business starts on June 16 in the case of Bermuda and June 18 for Guyana. The last time the two nations met, the match ended in a 1-1 draw and while a win would be accepted, the leading tacticians on both teams also agreed that that would not be the primary focus of the match.
Kick off time is 20:00h in Bermuda and 21:00h in Guyana.