HAMILTON, Bermuda, CMC – Table-topping Guyana will bank on the experience of Leon Cort and Ricky Shakes when they take on resurgent Bermuda in a CONCACAF Group B qualifier at the National Sports Centre (NSC) tonight.
Bermuda go into the match minus reserve goalkeeper Tahj Bell but with renewed hope of further progress after stunning regional powerhouses Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 here on Friday night while Guyana won 2-0 in Barbados the same night. Bermuda’s win against the Soca Warriors, weakened by injury and unavailability, came after they lost both away matches in Port of Spain and at Guyana’s Providence Stadium. London-born Cort, a former English Premier League defender who made 30 appearances for Stoke City and is currently on loan at Division One leaders Charlton Athletic from Championship side Burnley, was part of the squad which beat Barbados.
Cort, 32, qualifies to play for Guyana through his mother’s side of the family.
His brother Carl, a former Newcastle and Wolves striker, has also committed himself to Guyana’s campaign but is not expected to be available until next month’s double-header against Trinidad and Tobago.
Shakes, 26, who plays professionally for Blue Square Bet Premier League side Ebbsfleet United in the UK, qualifies through his father’s nationality even though he won one cap for Trinidad and Tobago in a friendly against Iceland in 2006.
The Guyana FA have gained permission from FIFA for Shakes to switch allegiance as the game was not competitive.
Guyana coach Wayne “Wiggy” Dover believes the professional experience of the Cort brothers and Shakes will be a huge boost to his team’s qualifying chances.
“I am very elated on behalf of the technical team that Carl and Leon Cort as well as Ricky Shakes will be joining our programme as we seek to qualify for the World Cup finals,” he said.
“I believe that it is a good time for them to join us and the high level that they will bring, having played at the highest level in England can only boost us going forward in our two away games and then the final home and away tie against Trinidad and Tobago in November.”
Bermuda coach Devarr Boyles has called up overseas goalkeeper Mikkail Crockwell as back-up for Freddy Hall for the Guyana match. Boyles was forced into the move after his back-up goalkeeper Bell was sent off during Friday night’s game and is now serving a one-match ban. Bell was shown a red card in bizarre fashion after relieving himself in the far corner of the NSC towards the end of the first half.
Crockwell, 21, who plays his football in the United States for Thomas College in the North Atlantic Conference, is expected to arrive in Bermuda on Tuesday and will then fly back home the following day, although the Bermuda Football Association (BFA) is still trying to confirm the full terms of his release with Thomas College, the Royal Gazette said. Meanwhile, the BFA has publicly apologised for playing the wrong national anthem on Friday night.
A mix-up saw the anthem of the US played rather than the British one used here.
“We caused undue embarrassment and anxiety for which we are truly sorry. We also apologise to the people of the USA for the mistake,” the BFA said in a statement.
“Although this has happened previously, we have taken steps to ensure that this will not happen again.”