August 21st, 2008
New-look Bermuda squad for Digicel Cup
By: Stephen Wright
Starlets Tumani Steede and Roger Lee have received surprise call-ups to the senior national team for next week's Digicel Caribbean Championships in Cayman Islands.
Steede, of Devonshire Cougars, and Somerset Bridge's Lee both impressed during last month's Under-20 World Cup qualifiers, also held in Cayman.
In the absence of defensive lynchpins Kevin Richards, Omar Shakir and Kofi Dill, who have been ruled out through work commitments, injury and fatigue respectively, Cougars defender Kijuan Franks has also been drafted in.
Technical director Derek Broadley admitted that Bermuda's squad was not as strong as he would have liked, but said he believed they still possessed enough quality in their ranks to qualify.
"We haven't quite got the depth we wanted in certain areas, but we're still very confident," said Broadley. "Some of our players are suffering from fatigue following their season with the Bermuda Hogges and require rest.
"But that means we're able to include a few younger players like Tumani and Roger who now have their chance."
The Gombey Warriors, who will have professionals Khano Smith, John Barry Nusum and Reggie Lambe available, dust off their cobwebs with a friendly against Miami FC Blues on Saturday in the US.
The United Soccer Leagues (USL) side finished bottom of Division One this season.
Marquee names such as Stevie Astwood, Damon Ming, Jemeiko Jennings and Sammy DeGraff will also be among the travelling party.
Bermuda will meet hosts Cayman Islands, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Martin in Group C of the Digicel Cup next week. Broadley believes the Antiguans will pose Bermuda the greatest threat.
"If Antigua bring their best team they will be a test for us. They were eliminated from the World Cup qualifiers by Cuba, but only lost 4-3 at home. As we've seen before Cayman can be a tough team, while St. Martin are a bit of an unknown quantity."
The five group winners along with the four best second-place teams from the first stage of the Digicel Cup qualifiers will be placed into three groups hosted by Guadeloupe, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago from October 11 to November 9.
The top two teams from each second round group will join the defending Caribbean champions Haiti and the hosts Jamaica in the final round in December.
The top four teams will qualify to the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.