The Bahamas men’s national beach soccer team put on an offensive and defensive showcase as it dominated Bonaire 12-2 to advance to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Beach Soccer Championships (CBSC) quarter-finals in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
The Junkanoo Boys’ scoring barrage was led by Timothy Munnings and James Thompson, who both scored a hat-trick.
The Bahamas and the United States of America are tied with six points each, but the USA sits at the top of Group C because of goal difference. Bonaire and Antigua & Barbuda are still looking for a victory in the tournament.
For The Bahamas, goalkeeper Michael Butler was the first one to score on a well-timed shot that got a deflection and went past the Bonaire goalkeeper.
With 7:00 left in the first third, Munnings got on a scoresheet after easily scoring on a free-kick. After putting his team up 2-0, Munnings went on all fours and crawled as he celebrated in grand style. He spoke about that celebration and the reason for it.
“That is called the black panther. I wanted the world to see that it is our time. We know how to have fun and be serious at the same time. We have a heart of a panther and that is where that celebration came from,” Munnings said.
Bonaire managed to score on a penalty to close the gap to 2-1.
Jean “Sunny” Francois scored an unstoppable bicycle kick on a corner with 23 seconds remaining in the first third to put The Bahamas up 3-1. The score remained the same at the end of the first third.
Luiz Escobar, Team Bahamas’ head coach, said; “The game was very good, we had control of game the entire time where we were able to have a lot of the players on the score sheet, and we were able to create a collective game and have a big victory.”
By the end of the second third, The Bahamas scored five goals while shutting out Bonaire. The score was 8-1 with the advantage to The Bahamas.
“As a team, we knew that going into the game we had to be aggressive and show dominance. I feel I did just that by putting pressure on them. I controlled the game and I was very strong and physical,” Munnings said after scoring two goals in the first two thirds.
Thompson scored two goals in the second period.
Heading into the final third, the dominance by Team Bahamas was apparent and the game was over at the end of the second third.
However, Thompson and Munnings were not finished with the Bonaire team. They completed their hat-trick in the final third. Thompson completed his with 9:17 remaining. Munnings’ own was completed with 1:44 left in the game to put his team up 12-2, the final score line.
Munnings’ hat-trick goal came from around the same area that he scored his first goal.
“For me to score a hat-trick, it means the world. It is my first hat-trick for the men’s national team. Not only did I score a hat-trick, but my roommate, Thompson, got to score a hat-trick as well. It is really amazing to represent the country at such a high level and be able to show the world and The Bahamas that we are out here to get the victory,” Munnings said.
The final score did not surprise Coach Escobar as he said that the team has a lot of potential.
The other goal scorers were Gavin Christie, Lesly St. Fleur and Dwayne Forbes.
Next up for The Bahamas will be USA this evening at 7 p.m. local time. The Bahamas is up against a tough opponent as the Americans have scored a total of 25 goals in two games. Escobar said that qualifying for the quarterfinal was a big objective and the team needs to play smart tonight.
“We know that every game is important and every game has its history. Our big objective was to qualify for the quarterfinals and that was accomplished. Against our familiar foes, we need to play a very intelligent game and to continue with our collective game where we have our strength. For that we need to play focused and organized. We have to have a strong mentality for the entire game because the small details are going to make a difference,” Escobar said.
If The Bahamas wins tonight, they will play the second place team in Group D. If they do not win tonight, they will play the first-place team in Group D.
Group D team is comprised of Guadeloupe, El Salvador, Guyana and Belize.
The Bahamas is seeking to get to the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup and to get there they will have to get in the finals to qualify.
This year the Beach Soccer World Cup will be held in Asuncion, Paraguay.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism