Team kicks off Nations League competition tomorrow at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium
The Bahamas senior men’s national soccer team will kick off its 2022 CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Nations League campaign with a home match against St. Vincent and the Grenadines at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium tomorrow.
The match gets underway at 5 p.m. as international soccer returns to The Bahamas. It will be the first home game in this window, and the second is slated for June 10 against Nicaragua. There is a road match against Trinidad and Tobago on Monday.
Guardian Sports caught up with the team during practice on Tuesday night at the Roscow A.L. Davies Soccer Field. Head coach and former national team player Nesly Jean said the full team is here and ready to go.
“Most of the guys came in two days ago (Sunday), so we are trying to get the right chemistry. We are trying to get the guys that were overseas to come in and fit in with the team and play the way we play. It is still a lot of work to be done over the next two days and hopefully we will solve that problem,” Jean said. “Everybody is starting to understand what we are trying to do. We are just trying to fix one and two little things and make adjustments. We will be good to go by Friday.”
The Bahamas was promoted from League C to League B of the CONCACAF region after winning its group in the 2019 edition of the competition. They are in a tough group with St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago and Nicaragua.
For now, Jean is concerned with getting started on a winning note as he takes it one game at a time.
“The first game is the most important game. We have to put all our focus into this first game and get a win. We are not worrying about Trinidad and Tobago or any other team. We just want to focus on the first game and get a win,” Jean said.
Team Captain Lesly St. Fleur, who has been on the national team for over a decade, is one of the seniors and leaders of the team. He knows the team is young and he is looking to help guide them.
“It is a good make-up of the team. We are bringing in the young players to mix with the veterans. It is good because it will be a strong team in a couple years. We have to groom them while we have the chance because some of us may not be here again. That is what we are doing – we are mixing it up with veterans and young players. We have been getting along together,” St. Fleur said.
This window is a very tough window for the team as they play two home games and two away games in 10 days.
“The boys have been performing day in and day out,” St. Fleur said. “We are preparing for this upcoming campaign, so we have to be mentally focused and that is what we are doing right now. I tell the players to give all they could and let someone else fill in the spot. We have four games and everyone has to play hard. We have to rest and recover then go back at it again. We have to be mentally focused and prepared to play these four games.”
Elvet Julmis, who plays center back, played with the senior men’s national team last year when they were in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers.
“We have a young team instead of an older group. It is now left to see what we can do as a younger team, how we can develop and move forward quickly and how well we can adapt playing internationally. A lot of us have not played many international matches as yet, so hopefully they can adapt quickly,” he said.
The fans are back in the stands for this game, as COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, and Jean is looking to use them as a huge boost for the team.
“It is a huge impact with the fans here in the stadium,” Jean said. “That is what we need and guys are going to give 100 percent for their country but the fans in the stadium will give them an extra boost. It is good to have a home-field advantage when you have the fans. We are looking forward to seeing them and hopefully we can put on a good show for them.”
Goalkeeper Oliver Townend echoed his coach’s sentiments about the fans being back in the stands for the first time in over two years.
“It will be very important to have them because with COVID-19, we haven’t been able to have fans and that has a big impact because their support in the stands is helpful to the players on the field. We feel that support. It is going to be a huge boost for us and it’s on a field that we are used to playing on. It will help to calm the players’ nerves with the supporters behind them.”
Tickets are on sale at the box office for the match at Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The single game tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for youth. There is a special package for both games which is $30 for adults and $15 for youth.
The game will not be livestreamed.