The Bahamas’ under-17 boys national soccer team was forced to forfeit its final game at the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) Under-17 Qualifiers against Bonaire at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, on Wednesday, as a result of less than 11 players being available for the match due to an outbreak of COVID-19. It was their final game of the qualifiers and there were eight players who tested positive, according to team officials. Fortunately, none of the players are very ill and only displayed mild symptoms.
Bahamas Football Association (BFA) Technical Director Bruce Swan, who made the trip, said the players and the team are doing well.
“The players are in quarantine,” Swan said. “We just have a couple of them with high temperatures. We don’t have anyone who is sick to say that they are bedridden. They can be up and about, so they are doing okay.”
The Bahamas was in Group A with five other countries and had a 2-2 win/loss record going into their final match. They sat in fourth position with six points. They scored three goals and gave up nine.
Team Bahamas won its first match 2-1 against Sint Maarten. The goal scorers for The Bahamas were Reuben Edgecombe and Kai Perez. Robert Holcombe’s first half goal helped The Bahamas take down the British Virgin Islands (BVI) 1-0 for their second win. Their losses came against group leaders Bermuda, falling 4-0, and Guyana, also losing 4-0.
The team was set to play their fifth and final game of the tournament yesterday. After testing the team and its management for COVID-19, the BFA had to make the decision to forfeit the game.
“It’s difficult when you come into a tournament and you expect to play all of your games. The team was doing well, they were adjusting fine with two wins and two losses. We wanted to play that last game to come out with a winning record. It is sort of disappointing. We had less than 11 players to start the match. It was a decision for the federation to call off the game instead of risking the team going into the match with less players for 90 minutes,” Swan said. “Knowing what we know in terms of their recovery and the stress that we may have put them through, it might have put them in a position to get injured during the match. We had some players who are dealing with hamstring, calves and other minor injuries and we did not want to risk that further.”
Swan said he is looking forward to the players’ continued development when they get back home as he and the BFA looks to the future.
“We decided that it would best that we pull the guys from the last game and look forward to their growth in the future. We definitely have a lot of work to do when we get back with their clubs to ensure that we are growing better and have more confident players. We are going to get to work as soon as we get back,” Swan said.
The tournament was a qualifier to the CONCACAF Under-17 Championships. Only the group winners advanced to the championships where the top 16 ranked nations in the region have been seeded directly into the group stage. That tournament will be played during the first quarter of 2023.