- After their debut in the 2019 Gold Cup, the Gombey Warriors want to comeback in 2021
- Bermuda not only reached the 2019 Gold Cup but also qualified for League A in the 2019-20 CNL
MIAMI, Florida – Bermuda was one of two teams to make their Concacaf Gold Cup debut at the 2019 edition of the tournament and the Gombey Warriors are keen to prove that was no fluke.
Bermuda are once again in the mix for a spot in the 2021 Gold Cup and to reach the tournament for a second straight time they will need to emerge as one of three teams from a 12-team pool in Gold Cup Qualifying.
The newly revised single-elimination format announced by Concacaf next week should make for some exciting results, but for Bermuda, the ultimate objective is unchanged.
“It’s a little bit of a change, but it’s good. Our goal is still the same. We want to go as far as we can, we want to get back to the Gold Cup,” said Bermuda FW Zeiko Lewis in an exclusive interview with Concacaf.com.
“We felt like when we were there, we underachieved a little bit, but we know what we need to do and get our jitters out of the way, so we want to go back and go even further,” added Lewis.
Dating back to CNL Qualifying when Bermuda were defeated 3-1 by Aruba in their opening match only to recover and win three straight to claim a Gold Cup berth, Bermuda has seemingly been in a do-or-die situation. With that in mind, Lewis thinks they’ll be unfazed by the pitfalls of a single-elimination format in Gold Cup Qualifying
“For Bermuda, we have always been in must-win situations since I can remember. We have always had to win this game and that game and when we had our international windows, it was usually only one game. Single game elimination is everything that we have done,” said Lewis.
Lewis started all three of Bermuda’s matches in the 2019 Gold Cup in which the side finished third in their group with three points, including a first ever Gold Cup win when they topped Nicaragua 2-0. Reaching another Gold Cup would show that Bermuda aren’t going anywhere.
“I think it would be a sign that Bermuda is here to stay. I think last time we went to the Gold Cup, people were shocked. We weren’t surprised because we know how hard we worked to get where we were. We don’t want to be just a one and done. As soon as we got eliminated from the Gold Cup, we set our sights on making the next one,” said Lewis.
By virtue of their fifth-place finish in CNLQ, Bermuda not only reached the 2019 Gold Cup but also qualified for League A in the 2019-20 CNL. While they finished third in their group with Panama and Mexico, there were still plenty of positives to take away from the four matches.
“I think it was a very positive experience. We went into League A playing against Panama and Mexico and after we got the first games out of our way, we started preparing a lot better. I think it will be similar to this. Now that we’ve gotten our first Gold Cup run out of the way, the nerves and jitters, if we don’t achieve next time it’s because we didn’t give our all or keep a high enough standard,” said Lewis.
Among the memorable experiences from the CNL was a trip to the historic Azteca Stadium in Mexico City where Bermuda valiantly went toe-to-toe with El Tricolor before a stoppage time goal gave Mexico a 2-1 win.
“It was like nothing I have ever experienced before, to be put in that stadium in that environment, it was unreal. Hearing their fans driving them until the 90th minute for them to get a winner, which was heartbreaking, but it was an experience I’ll never forget,” said Lewis.
There was also a thrilling 2-0 win in Panama just three days after suffering a 4-1 home defeat to the Canaleros.
“When we first played Panama and Mexico, it wasn’t a good performance. The next time against Panama we took chances and that was the difference. Against Mexico the first time we defended more, but in Mexico we had more clear-cut chances, Mexico won the game but we had chances where we could have scored. We had multiple breakaways that we could have scored on, if we had done that, Mexico would have needed a few more goals to knock us off,” said Lewis.
Also on the docket in the next year for Bermuda is the First Round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying for Qatar 2022 in which Bermuda have been drawn into Group B with Canada, Suriname, Cayman Islands and Aruba. No matter the opponent, Lewis likes Bermuda’s chances.
“Similar to other teams in Concacaf, Canada is a powerhouse but after playing against Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, they are a similar caliber team, but we have proven that we can handle our own against the big boys. Canada we won’t take lightly, but we’ll fancy our chances. We fancy our chances against anybody. If you put us up against a top-tier team, I’m not saying we’re going dominate possession or be the greatest team out there, but I think we have a shot against anybody,” said Lewis.
It all feeds into the belief that Bermuda are ready to do something very special and that anyone who takes the Gombey Warriors lightly might find themselves on the wrong end of a result.
“I would say don’t count us out until we’ve played. A lot of teams have counted us out. We weren’t supposed to make the Gold Cup and look what happened there. We made the Gold Cup, we gave Costa Rica a run of their money, we gave Haiti a run for their money and we beat Nicaragua. We gave Mexico a run for their money, we beat Panama, so I’m just saying if anyone wants to count us out, you have to watch the games first,” concluded Lewis.