Bahamas learns Nations League opponents

Bahamas learns Nations League opponents
Players battle for the ball during the 2016 CONCAF qualifying game between The Bahamas and Bermuda. (Photo credit: The Royal Gazette)

The Bahamas men’s national soccer team learned its opponents for the first edition of the 2018-19 CONCACAF Nations League over the weekend.

The Bahamas plays its first game in September against Belize in September, Antigua and Barbuda in October, Anguilla in November and then Dominica in March 2019.

The League comes to a close with a National League Championship, which will also serve to unify the qualifying path for the newly-expanded 2019 Gold Cup.

“The Nations League assures that all our members will have the opportunity to play more and compete more, which in turn will propel greater development of the sport at every level,” Confederation President Victor Montagliani said.

“The launch of the CONCACAF Nations League, conceived over the last two years and guided by the ‘ONE CONCACAF’ principles of unity and access for our region’s football, is the defining moment marking the completion of our transition into a new era for our 41-member CONCACAF family.”

Having qualified for the Hexagonal Round of the 2018 World Cup qualifying process, Honduras, Panama, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States have earned the right to be seeded directly into League A and will contain four groups of three teams with the winners of each group qualifying to the “Final Championship”, which will determine the Nations League champion.

The teams at the bottom of each League A group, will be relegated to League B for the next edition of the tournament. The winner of each League B group will be promoted to League A, and the bottom team of each League B group will be relegated to League C for the next edition.

“When you look at it, this is a golden opportunity for The Bahamas,” former team Bahamas head coach Dion Godet, said.

“What happens now is that we will have multiple shots at international competition and moving up the rankings. It also provides the local soccer players with something to look forward to. Now all of the guys that are playing in college or playing professionally will have several opportunities to represent the country.

“This is similar to what is done in Europe, where teams can take a bus from place to place to play elite competition. It’s hard to get better when you’re only playing local competition, but now we have a chance to improve our skills as players and as a country.”

The news is welcome by smaller countries in CONCACAF as it means their teams will be able to play international competition at a more frequent rate as the team’s cost of travel is covered completely by the federation.