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St. Fleur scores winning goal for The Bahamas; improves to 2-0

The Bahamas senior men’s national beach soccer team improved to a 2-0 win/loss record in the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Sea and Beach Games on Tuesday, coming from behind to take down Mexico, 2-1, at the Beach Soccer Stadium in Santa Marta, Colombia.

This is the inaugural year for the event, and there are 650 athletes from 26 countries participating. Also being contested are beach wrestling, open water swimming, surfing, beach volleyball, beach rugby, handball, skateboarding and tennis.

Head coach for The Bahamas Nesly Jean said they had to change formation after Mexico scored to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

“We wanted to high press man-to-man and try and get the keeper to do more of the kicking. When we went down, we basically changed formation and also personnel up top. Overall, we limited our mistakes and the team is improving. The players are starting to buy into the different system that we have created,” Jean said.

The Bahamas’ captain Lesly St. Fleur was left wide open on the far post and received a pass from Jaime Thompson. He beat two Mexican defenders on that possession in the final period for the game-winning goal. It seemed as if Mexico forgot to do their scouting report as St. Fleur did what he does best – find the back of the net. The veteran beach soccer player is one of the best in the region. He flicked the ball off his right heel and sent it rolling into the back of the goal at the 4:07 mark to complete the comeback victory for the Bahamian side. It was St. Fleur’s first goal of this tournament.

St. Fleur said that his goal was a result of the hard work they put into their craft in practice. He said it was a counter-attack where he got open and was rewarded on the back post.

“I was by myself. The ball came across and the only thing I had to do was put the icing on the cake and seal the deal. Nothing was going through my head – it was just on me to finish off the game,” St. Fleur said.

Thompson scored the equalizer for The Bahamas one minute earlier at the 5:04 mark. Thompson made a good defensive play and passed the ball to goalkeeper Michael Butler. Thompson ran down the right flank and Butler rewarded that run with an on-target pass that Thompson bicycle-kicked past the Mexican goalkeeper and into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1. Thompson, who was injured last month and could not play in the Bahamas Beach Soccer Cup Tournament, netted his second goal of the tournament so far.

Jose Morales scored the opening goal for Mexico at the 1:12 mark of the first period.

St. Fleur said that it was good to come away with the win.

“We kept calm throughout the game, knowing that we would score so we played with confidence,” St. Fleur said. The Bahamas showed that their 3-1 win over Colombia in the Bahamas Beach Soccer Cup 2022 was not a fluke as they got a 4-3 victory over the host on Monday in their opening game. Scoring for The Bahamas in that game on Monday were Dwayne Forbes, Jean Francois, Gary Joseph and Thompson. Francois was not available for the game yesterday after picking up a red card against Colombia.

The win yesterday puts The Bahamas at the top of table with six points, having scored six goals and conceding four.

The Bahamas returns to action today when they take on El Salvador at 2:30 p.m. They are hoping to use the two victories from the first two days to give them the momentum they need against a tough El Salvador team.

The Bahamas will be going for its sixth straight win in the region, dating back to October of this year. Their last loss was May 2021 which was a 5-4 setback against Mexico.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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