SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic, CMC – National coach Kyle Lightbourne applauded Bermuda after they came from behind to beat hosts Dominican Republic 3-1 in their final CONCACAF Nations League qualifier at the Estadio Cibao here on Sunday March 24 and qualify for the Gold Cup for the first time.
Despite falling a goal behind to a third-minute strike from Enmy Pena, Bermuda rallied with US-based Zeiko Lewis equalising in the 15th minute, before second-half goals from UK-based Nahki Wells (64) and substitute Justin Donawa (74), who plays in the United States, sealed the historic victory.
Bermuda finished fifth in the standings, having earlier beaten Saint Maarten and El Salvador following defeat to Aruba in their opener.
Lightbourne said qualifying for the Gold Cup was just the beginning of his team’s journey.
“An emotional day for us, the coaching staff and the players, and hats off to everyone that made the trip down to watch the game,” Lightbourne said after the game.
“This is the beginning of a journey for us and we can’t rest on our laurels.
“We will enjoy the moment and we have to move forward now. We have to raise our level because we are going to a new level,” added Lightbourne.
Danté Leverock, who plays for Sligo Rovers in Ireland, said he was “lost for words” after captaining Bermuda to victory against higher-ranked opponents on their home turf.
“It’s an amazing feeling; it doesn’t feel real,” defender Leverock said. “I’m so proud of the players and staff. It’s a massive achievement. An amazing feeling, I’m still lost for words. We are in the Gold Cup!”
The Gold Cup, which will be held from June 15 to July 7, is a biennial competition for teams in North America, Central America and the Caribbean.