Bather: It doesn’t get bigger than this
Jaylon Bather believes Bermuda have already justified why they deserve to retain their Concacaf nations League top-tier status, warning relegation would now feel below their level.
The 26-year-old is expected to once again partner Danté Leverock at the heart of the defence as Bermuda conclude their group B campaign with a daunting fixture away to Gold Cup champions Mexico today.
Kyle Lightbourne’s side face an uphill struggle to finish above Panama in the three-team group and avoid relegation to League B.
Only a draw will suffice to guarantee survival and despite appreciating the task in hand, Bather is adamant Bermuda can continue exceeding expectations, and once again punch well above their weight and fulfil their ambition of securing their top-flight status.
“We’re all feeling pumped to play in what will be the biggest game in our history,” Bather said
“We’re really punching above our weight when you consider the size of Bermuda, but we can’t think like that, we have to remain focused at all times and get something out of the game.
“We learnt from the mistakes in the first game against Panama and went away and won. We also learnt a lot from the first Mexico game, so hopefully we can come away with another positive result.
“Being in League A means the world to everyone because we’ve all become a bit used to playing at this level. I feel like playing below this League would almost feel below us now because we have shown our capabilities against the bigger nations.
“I definitely feel like we belong here. I don’t feel like we’re done at this level, we all want to stay in this league playing against these types of teams.
“To be playing against the big teams means a lot and it’s also great for the next generations coming through seeing us play in matches like this. Hopefully we can set the foundations for them to come into future squads at a good level already, rather than having to start from the bottom.
“Being tested against the highest quality more regularly has helped us develop a lot as a squad. If we can keep testing ourselves and grow more than that would be great.”
Whatever the outcome of the match and in turn Bermuda’s fate, on a personal level the Robin Hood defender is relishing the opportunity to once again test himself against high-quality opposition and in particular the prospect of marking Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Raúl Jiménez.
“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be representing my country again in a match as big as this against a top nation with incredible players,” Bather added.
“Obviously, I’m used to playing against the other regional sides like Bahamas, but travelling away to face big teams like Mexico is just a different feeling.
“Playing against a team like Mexico is extremely exciting and might be something that may never happen again for me. It’s an amazing experience, particularly for the local-based players like myself. For us to play at this level is always exciting and we have to all make the most of the occasion.
“Marking someone as good as Raúl Jiménez will be an honour for me, however, when you’re playing against players of that quality it can be very difficult as they showed in the first game.
“The level is completely different to what I play against at home and you have to respect what they do. You can’t take anything for granted and have to do everything correct all the time. If you get caught sleeping and make even one mistake, you’ll be punished.
“Matches like this are a big thing for the whole country and something we can build on for the future.”
Sam Murley travelled to Toluca, Mexico, thanks to sponsorship from Living Legends @living.legends.bda
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