MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Playing in front of about 20,000 fans in a packed Nicaragua National Football Stadium in Managua, Nicaragua, The Bahamas’ senior men’s national soccer team put up a fight but it was not good enough as Nicaragua scored three first half goals and came away with a 4-0 victory on Monday.
The CONCACAF (The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) Nations League match turned out to be one-sided in favor of the home team. The Bahamas made some costly mistakes in the first half which aided in them going down 3-0. It was a hole that they dug themselves in and never got out of. Although they lost the match, Assistant Coach Kevin Davies said he was happy with how the team fought, as there were just 14 players available for the match, and four of them were 17 years of age or younger.
“Overall, especially in the second half, the guys came together and battled. Our goalkeeper is 17-years- old and it was his first time playing in front of a huge crowd. I think he did exceptionally well. We made mistakes and gave up two penalties,” Davies said. “We came here and we fought. We knew that it was going to be difficult after traveling with only 14 players. At the end of the day, I am proud of the players. They gave it their all. We did not get the result we wanted but our players have nothing to be ashamed of.”
The Bahamas is third in the League B Group C competition of the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League with three points. Nicaragua leads the group with 10 points. Trinidad and Tobago picked up a 4-1 victory over St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Monday and sit in second place in the group with nine points. The Bahamas is third with three points and St. Vincent and the Grenadines brings up the rear with one point.
The Bahamas’ centerback Evelt Julmis attempted to wrestle the ball away from Nicaragua’s Jaime Moreno in the 19th minute of the game but was whistled for a hard tackle in The Bahamas’ 18-yard box. Julmis was assessed a yellow card and Nicaragua was awarded a penalty kick. Juan Barrera stepped up and kicked it to the right side and into the goal.
Moreno scored two goals within nine minutes, finding the back of the net in the 34th and 45th minutes of the game. The 34th minute goal came when The Bahamas had 10 men on the field because midfielder Roen Davis aggravated his groin. The Bahamas was forced to utilize one of its three available substitutes right after Moreno’s goal in the 34th minute.
The game was played in an environment that the Bahamian players were not accustomed to as Nicaraguan fans came out in droves and blew horns and whistles loudly. They also beat drums, and at one point it got a little hostile as water bottles were thrown on the field when fans expressed their displeasure with some of the shenanigans of the match.
“It played a factor,” Davies said. “These guys were at home. It is their crowd. For a lot of our guys, it was their first time playing in front of a crowd like that. They could not hear the instructions being shouted at them because of the noise in the stadium but they had to communicate on the field and I am sure it was difficult to communicate. The crowd was definitely a factor.”
Bahamian center midfielder Christopher Rahming, who played a strong game and was on the receiving end of a lot of fouls, said that playing in front of all those fans was a good experience.
“I think this is the first time a lot of us played in front of so many people. We had to get used to it. It was a different intensity. They have a lot of fans and I saw that it gave them a little extra push in how they played,” he said.
The Bahamas picked up its intensity in the second half like they have done in all three of their previous Nations League matches. They pressed more and had the Nicaraguans working more. However, The Bahamas was unable to find the back of the net. They finished the game with just five shots at goal and just one being on target. Jordin Wilson was the only Bahamian player to take multiple shots as he finished with two shots at goal.
Nicaragua was awarded a penalty when Kenaz Swain committed an untimely foul in his own 18-yard box. Ariagner Smith did enough to put away the penalty kick past 17-year-old goalie Vance Wheaton who dove to the correct side this time but did not get there quickly enough for a save.
The Bahamas held the fort down the rest of the way, trying to get on the scoreboard before referee Julio Luna blew the full time whistle.
With the first window for the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League competition completed, Davies is optimistic as he and Head Coach Nesly Jean look to build on the performances.
“From what we had to work with, the team held up pretty well,” Davies said. “The guys on the field had to fight and give it their all. If we can get all of the guys together for a longer period of time, it will definitely help to build team chemistry.
“I always say that talent is not our problem. If we can get the guys together more and play some more friendlies, I think that we can build on what we have. We have a very good group of young players – 17 and 18-year-olds. We may have about two players who are over 24-years-old. I think that is excellent for the age range that we are working with. The future for The Bahamas football is very bright.”
Rahming is one of those young players who Davies spoke about. He believes they can figure it out.
“I think we are still figuring out how we want to play. Coming back from away, I see that we do not have an identity. All of our players do not play together because a lot are off to school. We do not have much time for training. I do not think we have an identity as to how we want to play as yet,” he said.
Rahming is looking forward to the next window of the 2022-2023 CONCACAF Nations League competition, set for March 2023.