Lopsided victories are the norm in the early rounds of World Cup qualifying, as FIFA seeks to eliminate the tiny nations as quickly and as painlessly as possible. But the players of Bermuda didn't get the memo from Zurich inviting them to roll over and die, and this Sunday find themselves at home defending a 2-1 first-leg lead against Trinidad & Tobago, qualifiers for the last World Cup in Germany.
The two-goal hero of that game, 27-year-old John Barry Nusum, is a Furman University graduate and a former Columbus Crew player (MLS minutes played: zero) who recently signed for the Bermuda Hogges of USL Division Two. Altogether, 10 players on Bermuda's roster play for the Hogges, currently eighth in 10-team USL2 with six points after seven games. The Hogges were founded by Bermudan soccer hero and current club chairman Shaun Goater, whose national World Cup qualifying record tally of 10 goals was broken by Nusum last weekend.
"There's a real buzz!" Nusum said of the atmosphere in Bermuda, with tickets suddenly in demand for Sunday's second leg. "When we got back from Trinidad on Tuesday, there were TV cameras and press and friends and family members waiting for us to offer their support. It's a special time here. We're only half way there, and we know that Trinidad are going to come out hard in the second leg. They'll be looking for a fight and we need to stand right up to them."