The Bahamas slipped past the British Virgin Islands on Sunday to
reach the second round of CONCACAF qualifying, where they will be
joined by Bermuda who comfortably beat the Cayman Islands.
The Nature Boyz of BVI put up a brave fight on Sunday, but fell in the end to the Bahamas by the slimmest of margins. The 2-2 draw on the night saw the series finish 3-3 on aggregate, but the Bahamas won out by virtue of the away goals rule.
Now the victorious islanders will meet Caribbean royalty Jamaica over two legs (the first in early June). BVI, despite drawing both legs and pushing the favourites mightily in both contests, head out of contention for the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010™.
Michael Bethel opened the scoring for the Bahamians in the 40th minute on Sunday. Seven minutes into the second period, Demont Mitchell looked to have finished the job with a well-taken goal of his own.
However, the Virgin Islanders - led by two-goal captain Anadale Williams - roared back and drew level in the 78th and 90th minutes. In a cruel twist, though, the game which was played in Nassau, Bahamas was technically a road match for the hosts as BVI forfeited the right to play at home due to a lack of proper facilities. As a result, the two goals on Sunday counted as away goals for the Bahamas, sending them through on the road-goal rule.
Sunday's second contest saw Bermuda make easy meat of an improved, but still outgunned, Cayman Island side. After the first leg last month finished in a 1-1 draw, a fortified Bermudan outfit, complete with USA-based Khano Smith, made the trip to Grand Cayman looking to leave nothing to doubt.
Devaun DeGraff, one of eight Bermuda Hogges club players in the side, scored a brace in the first half. Kwame Steed, scorer of Bermuda's goal in the first leg, added another in the 52nd minute, rendering Marshall Forbes strike from the spot mere consolation for the Caymanians.
The 3-1 result on the night (4-2 on aggregate) sees Bermuda move on to the second round of CONCACAF qualifying where they will meet Germany 2006 finalists Trinidad and Tobago over two legs.
Nine other Caribbean and Central American sides booked passage to the second round last week, and they will join up with the Bahamas and Bermuda this summer as qualifying action in the region heats up.
CONCACAF second-round series
Antigua & Barbuda-Cuba
Netherlands Antilles- Haiti
Bermuda-Trinidad and Tobago
St. Vincent & the Grenadines-Canada