It was not the ending they wanted but Team Bahamas settled for second place in Group C after falling 3-2 to group winners the United States of America at the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Beach Soccer Championship in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico yesterday afternoon.
Getting on the scoresheet for the Bahamas were Timothy Munnings and Jean “Sunny” Francois. They were Bahamas’ leading goal scorers after the group stage with Munnings netting five and Francois netting four.
It was a very competitive game from start to finish as both teams were trying to get the top group spot.
The first third was scoreless with both teams playing great defense. Michael Butler, the Bahamian goalkeeper, and Chris Toth, the American goalkeeper, displayed their talents as they prevented any goals from getting behind them.
The Bahamas looked focused and locked in the first third.
Butler made a brilliant save on Nick Perera’s penalty kick to keep the score at 0-0.
Tanner Akol put the Americans up 1-0 with 6:32 remaining in the second third.
The Bahamas had a few chances from Munnings and St. Fleur but Toth was there to stop them.
It was the Americans who held a 1-0 lead heading into the final third.
Akol was not finished as he tried to score again but Butler was there to deny him.
With 11:23 remaining in the third, Akol performed a perfect bicycle kick. Butler got a fingertip on it but it was too powerful for him as the ball went into the back of the net and the Americans went up 2-0.
Team Bahamas pushed back as Munnings’ header with 7:32 remaining closed the gap to 2-1. The game was far from over and Munnings’ goal motivated his team.
Francois ensured he got on the scoresheet when he headed the equalizer past Toth with 2:54 remaining in the final third. Francois grabbed the camera and started celebrating by screaming as he made the game interesting. The score was tied at 2-2.
Half a minute later, Perera was fouled in the penalty area by Nesly Jean. He was awarded a yellow then a red card. Perera was given a penalty.
Butler was decisive and went left but unfortunately for him, Perera’s shot went right and that was the decisive goal as the referee blew the final whistle.
The Bahamas will play in the quarterfinals against El Salvador tomorrow afternoon at 3:15 Eastern Standard Time. If they win that game, they will play in the semifinals tomorrow.
They can advance to the final and qualify for a spot at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup once they win their quarterfinal and semifinal games.
Before losing to the United States, The Bahamas sported a perfect two-win record. They defeated Antigua and Barbuda 7-4 on Monday morning. On Wednesday afternoon, they thumped Bonaire 12-2 to secure a quarterfinal spot.
Against Antigua and Barbuda, Francois and Kyle Williams each had two goals. St. Fleur, Munnings and Gary Joseph each had a goal.
Against Bonaire, Munnings and Jaime Thompson led the way for The Bahamas with a hat-trick each. Gavin Christie, the captain, scored two goals. Butler, St. Fleur and Francois each scored a goal.
This year’s FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) Beach Soccer World Cup will be held in Asuncion, Paraguay from November 21 to December 1.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism
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