Bermuda's Paul Douglas (blue jersey) tries to elude the Antigua & Barbuda defense during a Caribbean under-20 qualifier on October 25, 2016, in Willemstad, Curacao.
HAMILTON, Bermuda – There’s a lot of excitement surrounding Bermuda’s first participation in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship since 1992.
Despite all the adulation, head coach Kyle Lightbourne is focused on keeping his team grounded ahead of Sunday’s opener against Group C rival Trinidad & Tobago. The sides met in Caribbean qualifying’s match for third place, with the Bermudians emerging victorious, 2-1, on goals by Knory Scott and Mikiel Thomas.
“This is not a holiday camp,” Lightbourne stressed to CONCACAF.com. “This is an opportunity to put Bermudian football more on the map. I have made It clear to our players that we are now coming up against the best in the region, so it is imperative that they focus on improving.
“This is the tournament we would really love to do well in and, for us, as coaches and all the staff that’s going down there, our job is to push these guys to get the best out of them that we can.”
Bermuda is also slated to face El Salvador (February 22) and host Costa Rica (February 25) in group play.
Lightbourne, who played in the English Premier League with Coventry City during the 1997/98 season, believes the U-20 tournament is about experience and helping his players grow into professionals.
“We have a squad that is capable of achieving great things in this tournament,” finished the 48-year-old. “However, we are taking it one step at a time. Our first objective is the three games we have to play in nine days. Wherever we are after that, we take it from there.
“We shocked the Caribbean in being one of the best five U-20 teams last year. Well, now, we want to grow in pedigree in CONCACAF. That is our goal.”