- “Qualifying for the Gold Cup would mean a lot to us because we are a small island”
- Lesly St. Fleur : “We have to be mentally prepared and keep focused for anything”
- “Nations League helped us a lot. We have been training for a while”
MIAMI, Florida – The next 12 months will be plenty busy for the Bahamas National Team with both 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Qualifying and 2022 Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 on the docket.
With a new single elimination format in place for 2021 Gold Cup Qualifying in which Bahamas will be one of 12 teams vying for three spots in the tournament next July, Bahamas captain and all-time leading scorer Lesly St. Fleur knows a strong mental approach will be required.
“We have to be mentally prepared and keep focused for anything, continue to train and be ready for that game next July,” said St. Fleur in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“It’s tough because you only get to play one game and if you lose that game, you’re out. You just have to be mentally prepared, that’s the most important thing about it. We are continuing to train right and now and when we play that game, we just have to go all out,” added St. Fleur.
Like every national team in the Concacaf region, the Covid-19 pandemic kept Bahamas away from the field for months, but in recent weeks the team has returned to training and enthusiasm abounds in Bahamas camp.
“There’s motivation. We are happy to be back on the pitch and start training, even though we are practicing the social distancing protocols, but we are happy to be back. It gives us life to know that we have games coming up, so we are preparing for that and it’s a good motivation that keeps us going and helps us focus. Everyone is excited and when the game comes, everyone has to be more focused and play hard,” said St. Fleur.
It was a group of young players, along with a mix of veterans like St. Fleur, that helped Bahamas claim first place in their 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League group in League C. St. Fleur could see the confidence rising in Bahamas as each game passed.
“Nations League helped us a lot. We have been training for a while and we knew we had to qualify [for League B] and put our country out there and get more games. It motivates the younger players.”
“It was a good performance. We got more motivated and energy as games went on. We won the first game and knew we had to keep the pedal to the floor and we were able to do it. It was really good for us and the country was proud of us. It was the first time that Bahamas has ever topped a group, so it helped us out,” said St. Fleur.
Also, on the horizon is the start of Concacaf WCQ in which Bahamas have been drawn into Group F with Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Guyana and Puerto Rico. The Trinidad and Tobago will be played at home for Bahamas and St. Fleur expects it to be a showcase event on the island.
“It’s a tough group. I’ve played Trinidad and Tobago and they are a very good team. We just have to be more focused. It will be a challenge.”
“We’ll have a big crowd for the Trinidad game. We have a lot of Trinidadians here too and our home fans will support us. It will be an exciting and fun game and a hard game and we’re looking forward to it,” concluded St. Fleur.