The Bahamas’ Men’s National Soccer Team had a tough time on Friday night, losing to Belize 4-0 in their opening match of the preliminary round of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) League of Nations. The game was played at the Isadora Beaton Stadium in Belmopan City, Belize.
Making the Bahamian squad were Mario Johnson, Jonathan Miller, Raymorn Sturrup, Troy Pinder, Isiah Collie, Lesly St. Fleur (Captain), Ricardo McPhee, Rejohn Ene, Chadwick Russell, Terry Delancy Jr., Christopher Rahming, Ian Lowe, Duane Beneby, Jordan Farquharson and Jaelin Williams. Dion Godet was the team’s head coach. Assisting him was Paul James. Avery Kep was the goalkeeper coach. The team manager was Larry Minns.
In CONCACAF, Belize is ranked at number 24 while The Bahamas is at number 31.
In the first half, Belize did all the attacking as the Bahamian team tried valiantly to secure its goal. The players seemed to wait for the game to come to them as the Belize team capitalized on sloppy passes, turning them into offensive chances.
Goalkeeper Johnson had to work hard as the Belizean attackers showed no fear. At one point of the game, Johnson made a beautiful finger-tip save to keep the game scoreless at zero.
After knocking on the door for 39 minutes, the host nation found the back of the net in the 40th minute. Deon McCauley was the scorer.
In the 44th minute, The Bahamas fell behind 2-0 as Miller scored an own goal from a low cross from the Belizeans.
At the half the score was 2-0 in favor of Belize. Woodrow West, the Belize captain and goalkeeper, did not have any threat from the Bahamian attackers.
In the first half, Belize controlled time of possession. The biggest discrepancy was shots taken. Belize had 11 while The Bahamas only had two.
The Bahamas’ best opportunity of the night came in the 52nd minute. St. Fleur had a nice give-and-go play with Delancy. St. Fleur picked up the ball by the penalty box and took a shot. West made a great save, pushing the ball wide.
Two minutes later, Pinder committed a foul in the 18-yard box on McCauley, giving up a penalty shot to Belize.
Pressure mounted on the Bahamian 16-year-old goalkeeper. McCauley stepped up and placed the ball to the right of Johnson, who read the kick well and made a great save to prevent Belize from going ahead 3-0.
In the 79th minute, Lowe came in for Johnson. He clashed with a Belizean attacker and appeared to injure his left knee.
One minute later, Belize’s Krisean Lopez scored their third goal as Lowe was unable to make a save. Lopez still wasn’t done yet. He found the back of the net five minutes into injury time, and eventually the final whistle blew signalling a 4-0 victory for Belize.
Belize had 19 shots compared to just four for The Bahamas. St. Fleur had two of The Bahamas’ shots.
Belize attacked a lot and was whistled seven times for being caught offside. The possession stats were basically the same as in the first half.
After the game, Coach Godet gave his assessment of the game.
He said: “Belize had a very defined game plan that made best use of their speed on the wings and ability to switch the play. We did not win the battle of midfield. We gave Belize too much time. We did uncover a few positive building blocks in that we started a 16-year-old rookie keeper who had two one-on-one saves and he saved a penalty against Belize’s all-time scorer.”
As for his team playing defense most of the game, he said the midfielders and attackers did not provide proper transitioning. It created a lot of pressure on the four defenders, he said.
Godet admits that the team was very young and inexperienced, but said he is looking ahead to the future
“This is what this Nations League is all about. We are building to change our past results in general, that does not paint the picture we want in four years’ time. This very young squad has lots of character to build on,” Godet said.
The Bahamas will play Antigua and Barbuda in their next League of Nations preliminary game. That game will be played in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Friday, October 12, starting at 6 p.m.
Godet said he will make some tactical changes for that game. He will be looking to change their midfield transitioning from defense to attacking and have better zonal shifting.
The Bahamas currently sits in 32nd out of 34 teams after this weekend of preliminary matches of the CONCACAF League of Nations.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism