The Bahamas pounds the Turks and Caicos
It’s been a year since The Bahamas’ national beach soccer team has played together. They were back in action on Saturday, decimating the Turks and Caicos, 7-0, in a scrimmage match at the Bahamas Football Association’s (BFA) National Beach Soccer Stadium, at Malcolm Park.
Luis Escobar, the new head coach of Team Bahamas, enjoyed his first win with the team. The game served as a warm-up match for both teams as they prepare for the 2019 CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Beach Soccer Championships. That regional event will be held in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and is set for May 13-19, 2019. It is the qualifier for the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) Beach Soccer World Cup set for November 21 to December 1, 2019, in Asuncion, Paraguay.
The Bahamas opened the first third with a goal from the country’s leading scorer in beach and grass soccer, Lesly St. Fleur. It didn’t take him long to get going as he scored in the first minute of the game.
Less than a minute later, long time beach soccer player Gary Joseph got going. He scored in the second minute of the game.
Escobar said: “It was an amazing performance. First of all, I would like to say thanks to our fans, because they supported us. About the game, I am very proud of the team because they followed the system and understood that things will improve day by day. We have two more weeks to go and can improve on our mistakes and fitness level. I hope to have a good tournament in Mexico.”
Kyle Williams and Jean Francois each added a goal in the first third for The Bahamas, and the host nation led 4-0 going into the second third.
Veteran player and team captain Nesly Jean said the team performed very good, and this game gave them an idea on where they’re at.
“I think the team’s performance was very good. In two weeks, we go to Mexico for the real tournament which is the qualifier for the beach soccer world cup, so, this gives us an idea on where we are, what we need to do, and what we did good and what we did bad,” Jean said.
St. Fleur scored his second and final goal of the match in the second minute of the second third. Gavin Christie, another experienced player, found the back of the net four minutes later to give The Bahamas a 6-0 lead.
Williams completed his double five minutes into the final third to give the team its seventh and final goal.
The Turks and Caicos side had some chances but The Bahamas’ experience and talent played a huge part in the shutout.
For Christopher Ryan, head coach of the Turks and Caicos squad, this was not the result they wanted but he said as the game progressed, they got stronger.
“Well, obviously we didn’t want to go home 7-0. You know the first period was not good for us. We were disorganized and I think we were scored on four times, but as the game progressed in the second and third period, we got stronger and stronger and it was quite close in those two periods. That was due to the fact that the team is understanding the organization better. It’s the first competitive match we have played in the past two years, ever since we came here (The Bahamas) for the world cup qualifiers. In some ways, it’s a learning experience, but I am very happy that they got on board with what we’re trying to do,” Ryan said.
The Turks and Caicos have been training together since the end of the CONCACAF Nations Cup, around mid-March. Coach Ryan said that they have put in about 6-7 weeks together.
Herby Magny, captain of the Turks and Caicos side, said: “It was not what we wanted, it could have been better, but I’m very proud of the boys because it has been two years since the last competition, since we played competitive games. Most importantly, I’ve seen a lot of improvement from the boys and the way that we adapt. This was a good preparation for us heading to Mexico.”
Magny said that a few of their players were missing and he believes that they have more potential than what they displayed.
For Jean and several of the players like St. Fleur and goalkeeper Valin Bodie, they were in action on the grass from last year September to March in the CONCACAF Nations League.
Jean said it’s tough switching from grass to sand but he is getting better at it.
“The sand is very tough and it’s completely different from grass. This my second week back. It’s been tough but everyday I’m getting better gradually, I’m catching up with the team. The team is getting better because they were training before me and we can see improvement every day,” Jean said.
The Bahamas is in Group C with Antigua and Barbuda, Bonaire and the United States for the CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championships. The U.S. is expected to be the biggest challenge in the group.
For the Turks and Caicos, they are in Group B with Trinidad and Tobago, Panama and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Both teams will be looking to go through to Paraguay for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup later this year. The Bahamas will leave for Mexico on May 11.
The 16 participating teams will be sorted into four groups of four teams. After round-robin play, the first and second place finishers of each group will advance to the quarterfinals. The quarterfinals winners will advance to the semifinals. The semifinal winners will automatically qualify for the tournament’s final, as well as the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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