HARRISON, N.J. — Gombey Warriors rejoice!
After a pair of positive performances in defeat, Bermuda closed its first-ever outing in the Concacaf Gold Cup with a historic win, defeating Nicaragua, 2-0, at Red Bull Arena Monday night.
Bermuda finish third in Group B with three points, while Nicaragua fell to 0-9 all-time in the competition with a third defeat.
“The emotion is real right now for us ,” Bermuda coach Kyle Lightbourne said. “I think we finished the tournament off well. We didn’t play as well as we possible can, but I thought we managed the game really well today.”
After a scoreless, but entertaining first half in which Bermuda asked most of the questions, but failed to score on one of its 13 shots, Lejuan Simmons put the Gombey Warriors in front in the 61st minute.
Osagi Bascome played Simmons into space and the Robin Hood FC forward raced past Nicaraguan defender Josue Quijano and into the box. On his third touch, Simmons then blasted his shot in off the left hand of Nicaraguan goalkeeper Henry Maradiaga.
Simmons then turned playmaker 10 minutes later for Bermuda’s insurance goal. Following a few stepovers to create space, Simmons played a ball to the back post to Nahki Wells and the Queens Park Rangers forward stuck his downward header into the net for his second goal of the tournament.
“Nicaraguan controlled the game for periods. But we always knew we had that one or two passes to open them up,” Lightbourne said. “It happened on the first goal, it was a great ball in by Lejuan for the second goal and that’s typical Nahki Wells.”
Nicaragua had more possession and put five of its 16 shots on frame. But the true scoring chances were few and far between. The best, a glancing header by Oscar Lopez off a Byron Bonilla corner kick, was cleared off the line by Simmons in the 50th minute.
“We need to define various situations when we are in our opponent’s area and we will be able to get the results we want soon,” embattled Nicaragua coach Henry Duarte said. “We can’t be making those two, three errors we have been making against a Bermuda, a national team who has a very good style of play, a team with a lot of potential and speed. We have a good national team and we are missing that little spark that we need and then we will be able to define.”
When the final whistle blew, the Gombey Warriors on the field and their fans in the stands celebrated, while goalkeeper Dale Eve doused Lightbourne with water.
It’s a historic moment for Bermuda, but it’s also a step. Lightbourne believes this win will provide the necessary confidence when his team meets perennial powerhouses Mexico and Panama in Concacaf Nations League this fall.
“I take from this tournament that we can compete,” Lightbourne said. “Also, we have to be better in front of goal. I think if we were better in front of goal in our first two matches, we may be looking at seven points. … What we will take from the tournament overall that we can compete at this level, but we have to be ruthless in front of goal.”