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The Bahamas settles for fourth in Santa Marta

It was not the finish The Bahamas senior men’s national beach soccer team was hoping for but it’s still a major accomplishment as they placed fourth at the Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Sea and Beach Games which wrapped up on Saturday at the Beach Soccer Stadium in Santa Marta, Colombia. They fell to Mexico, 7-2, in the bronze medal game.

In that game, The Bahamas struck first in the first third when captain Lesly St. Fleur threw the ball in to play to an open and waiting Yvelt Julmis. He bicycle kicked it in past the Mexican goal keeper to put The Bahamas up less than a minute into the game. The Bahamas was in control at that point and it looked like they were going to dictate the pace of the game.

After not scoring a single goal all tournament, Julmis scored early and then struck again – this time in the second third. He capitalized on a defensive blunder by the Mexicans to put The Bahamas 2-0 and give them what seemed at the time, like a good cushion.

Beach soccer is a game that can change quickly and the tide changed against The Bahamas. Mexico quickly scored two goals to make the game competitive. The Bahamas broke down defensively as Mexico poured in five more goals to win 7-2 and avenge a 2-1 loss to The Bahamas earlier in the week.

It was a tough end to The Bahamas’ campaign. They got off to a hot start, winning their two opening matches, but they lost their final three matches to end the competition with a 2-3 win/loss record.

In the final group stage game on Friday, The Bahamas fell 5-3 to Venezuela, who won the silver medal, to set up the bronze medal game against Mexico. In the game against Venezuela, three different Bahamians scored. St. Fleur, goalkeeper Michael Butler and Jaime Thompson all scored for The Bahamas.

After having Wednesday as a rest day, The Bahamas was back in action on Thursday against table leaders El Salvador. That match did not end in The Bahamas’ favor as they were blanked 3-0 against the table leaders and eventual gold medalist, El Salvador.

On Tuesday, the Bahamian side took down Mexico 2-1 in a comeback victory. Finding the back of the net for The Bahamas in that game were captain Lesly St. Fleur and Jaime Thompson. The Bahamas got a 4-3 victory over the host nation on Monday in their opening game. Scoring for The Bahamas in that game on Monday were Dwayne Forbes, Jean Francois, Gary Joseph and Thompson.

This is the inaugural year for the CAC Sea and Beach Games, and there were 650 athletes from 26 countries participating. Also contested were beach wrestling, open water swimming, surfing, beach volleyball, beach rugby, handball, skateboarding and tennis.

It has been a busy few months for the senior men’s national beach soccer team. They geared up for the Bahamas Beach Soccer Cup that was held in The Bahamas from October 21-25. The team went a perfect 3-0 to lift the trophy as they powered their way past Trinidad and Tobago, Costa Rica and Colombia.

Against Trinidad and Tobago, The Bahamas won 7-4. Costa Rica tried to stop them, but The Bahamas took care of them, winning 6-4. In the final match, which was more on the defensive side, The Bahamas won 3-1 to secure the trophy. St. Fleur was the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of that tournament.

The Bahamas kept training after that tournament for the inaugural CAC Sea and Beach Games.

Now, they will prepare for the Beach Soccer World Cup Qualifiers set for May.

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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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