Bahamas ready for US test

On August 6 at the Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium, Bahamas will welcome the United States Olympic Team in an international friendly…

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An advertisement banner for the game. (courtesy of Bahamas Football Association)

On the beautiful island of Bahamas, the national sport sloop sailing takes precedence. Basketball, baseball and athletics are popular, too. Football isn’t played or watched as much but that doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t an appetite for it.

The national football team of Bahamas are making a comeback after three years out.

The Bahamas Football Association (BFA) has sought to fix the lack of matches in the national football calendar over the last few years by organising a friendly with the US Olympic Team, predominantly made up of Under-23s as well as three “overage” players. The Americans are likely to be up for the challenge with the 2016 Summer Olympics and 2018 World Cup coming up.

As for the Bahamas, this is a much-needed competitive fixture which will hopefully kick-start a period of more games in the future. The team’s last match was in July 2011, a 6-0 mauling of Turks & Caicos Islands in 2014 World Cup qualification. They didn’t enter qualification for this year’s Caribbean Cup but their Under-17 side did host and compete in Group 4 of Under-17 World Cup qualifying recently. Beach soccer is preferred to over the game’s grass version for most Bahamians because of the availability of sand on the island. They clinched sixth place at last year’s CONCACAF Beach Soccer Championship.

Bahamas’ key players

Lesly St. Fleur (left, yellow jersey) in action for Bahamas against Turks & Caicos Islands in 2011. (courtesy of The Nassau Guardian)

Name: Lesly St. Fleur

Position: Midfielder/Forward

School: Doris Johnson Senior High

Club History: 2004-2010 – Bears FC (Bahamas), 2010 – Milltown FC (Canada), 2010 – Sporting Central Academy (Jamaica), 2011-2014 – Montego Bay United (Jamaica)

Achievements/accolades: St. Fleur is the best player on the team. Speedy, skillful and athletic, the 25-year-old is Bahamas’ top scorer with six goals – five of them were in that Turks & Caicos game three years ago. He has 13 caps for his country and is a frequent feature for the Beach Soccer team, as he scored four goals in the group stage of the aforementioned regional Beach Soccer Championship.

*See above: St. Fleur in action for Milltown FC  in the Givova Canadian Soccer League in 2010, scoring in the opening seconds. His pace and willingness to get in behind the defence is highlighted here.

Dylan Pritchard surges forward while playing for Boston College in 2013. (courtesy of isiphotos)

Name: Dylan Pritchard

Position: Defensive Midfielder/Central Defender

School: Boston College

Club History: 2008-2012 – Real So Cal (United States)

Achievements/accolades: Pritchard was a member of the US Development Academy with Real So Cal from 2009-2012. He attended the coveted Northern Island Milk Cup with South Coast Bayern in 2010. The Los Angeles-born man will be harbouring hopes of making his national debut against, ironically, the US as he has only recently joined the Bahamanian setup.

Valin Bodie (centre) pictured in his Bahamas tracksuit before being told that he’d been selected for the 2014 Viareggio Cup. (courtesy of Bahamas Local)

Name: Valin Bodie

Position: Goalkeeper

School: Essex County College – Newark, New Jersey from August 2013 – Present

Club History: 2002-2006 – Virgo Angels FC (Bahamas), 2007-2013 – Augustine’s College Junior Boys & Senior Team (Bahamas), 2007-Present – Cavalier FC U17s & Seniors (Bahamas), 2013-Present – Essex County College (US), February 2014-Present – Elite Beach Soccer & Futsal Club (Bahamas)

Achievements/accolades: Although primarily a goalkeeper, Bodie can operate in a wide variety of positions such as Defender, Central Midfielder, Winger and Striker. He has co-captained and captained St. Augustine’s College and Cavalier, showing leadership qualities, while Bodie was also selected as Goalkeeper in this year’s Viareggio Cup held in Tuscany, Italy. He represented the nation’s Beach Soccer team in World Cup qualifiers in May last year. The teenager will have to be at his best against the US to keep their shots at bay.

Terry Delancy looks for a pass while playing football in his native Bahamas. (courtesy of Bahamas Weekly)

Name: Terry Delancy

Position: Forward/Winger

School: University of South Florida

Club History: 2001-2005 -Virgo Angels FC (Bahamas), 2005-2008 – Cavalier FC (Bahamas), 2008-2012 – Lonestar SC (US), 2013 – VSI Tampa Bay FC (US), 2014-Present – IMG (US)

Achievements/accolades: Born in Nassau and a St. Stephen’s Episcopal High School attendee, Delancy won the American Athletic Conference with his club this year. As a fresh-faced 14-year-old in 2008, Delancy participated in the first edition of the Red Bull Street Style held in Fort Charlotte, Bahamas. It was a competition designed to showcase the best of the island’s football freestylers and incredibly, Delancy, one of the youngest there, was crowned champion after producing a mesmerising performance (more information can be found on The Bahamas Weekly website). Delancy is now looking to make a mark with Bahamas on the international stage and if he appears against the US, it will be his first cap.

Ambry Moss controls the ball for Northeastern University at the NCAA Tournament in November 2012. (courtesy of isiphotos)

Name: Ambry Moss

Position: Central Defender/Right Back

School: Northeastern University

Club History: 2002-2007 – Lyford Cay Dragons, 2007-2009 – IMG, 2009-2010 – Indiana University, 2010-2014 – Northeastern Uni

Achievements/accolades: A Communications Studies pupil at Northeastern University, Moss was Northeastern’s Tri-captain and he’s ran out for the All-CAA Third Team, NSCAA All-South Atlantic Third Team and All-CAA Second Team. A solid, muscular defensive-minded player, he has just one previous cap for Bahamas.

Manager

Nesley Jean (No 10, yellow and black strip) in action as a player for the Bahamas at the 2013 Beach Soccer World Cup qualifiers. (courtesy of Tribune 242)

At 28 years old, Nesley Jean is one of the youngest managers in globall football. A former Bahamas international himself, Jean made 11 appearances and scored five goals during a seven year spell with the national team. An inventive and fast forward, he was a one-club man who dedicated his playing days to Bears FC – involved in the BFA Senior League – from 2007 to 2013. His career was blighted by injuries and as a result Jean hung up his boots last year and instead took up management. He began coaching for the Bahamas U17s and impressed enough to be given the senior job this summer, with his first game in charge coming against the US. Cameron Hepple, a current international and good friend of The Home of Caribbean Football, will assist Jean as a coach on the touchline.

Tactics

It is believed that Bahamas will employ a 3-4-3 formation with no official starting line-up known yet as some members of the squad still need to arrive in the Bahamas. Hepple says “we produce quality wing backs” and that is a reason why Bahamas are favouring this system, with three central defenders gluing the defence together, two wing backs to push on, two holding midfielders and a three-man attack with St. Fleur expected to lead the line. It isn’t yet known how the US side will line up.

Match details

Date: Wednesday August 6, 2014

Venue: Thompson A. Robinson National Stadium (named Thomas A. Robinson, an ex-Bahamas sprinter who ran for the island at several Olympics Games)

Kickoff time: 8pm local time which translates to 1am in the UK

Ticket prices: Adults pay $10, kids pay $5

By Nathan Carr

—————————————-

*All information/data is correct as of 01/08/2014

*Many thanks to Cameron Hepple for the provision of additional information on the Bahamian players

*You can find out the result/details of this friendly on our Twitter page @caribbeanftbl and you can follow the Bahamas FA on Twitter, too, @BahamasFA

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