Tim Foster, MC Sports Information
Maryville College rising senior Jonathan Sykes has been selected to compete for the Bahamas Senior National Team this summer.
Sykes competed for the Bahamas National Team in the U15 and U17 ranks, but this opportunity is far more important to him and his homeland now; he will battle for a chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup in 2014. The opportunity arose to Sykes after he returned home for the summer and starting training with local friends and received an invite after weeks of training.
He will be the lone NCAA Division III player competing in the CONCACAF qualifying bracket. The Bahamas National Team will consist of two professional USL players and the rest will be NCAA Division I players.
The road to the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be a rocky one as the Bahamas are ranked 31st in the region. The Bahamas are ranked in the likes of Turks and Caicos, Belize, Dominican Republic, British Virgin Islands, St Lucia, Aruba, US Virgin Islands and Montserrat. Teams ranked No. 26-35 will all compete in the first round of the qualifying bracket.
Teams ranked No. 7-25 will receive a bye to the second round while the top six teams, the United States, Mexico, Honduras, Jamaica, Costa Rica, and Cuba will receive a bye to round three. These six teams will face off against the pool winners of rounds one and two, in six separate divisions.
From there, the winners from those six divisions will play in one division in the final round and the top three teams from the final division will advance to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The difficult tournament draw does not faze Sykes as he and his teammates train for the road that awaits them.
“Last tournament we advanced to the second round and the expectations will be for us to go further than that this year. I believe that we can do it and so do my teammates.” Sykes said. “We believe that we can ultimately win the whole tournament.”
Sykes will be making the move to an attacking forward for the Bahamas Senior National Team. Sykes has played midfielder for the Fighting Scots for the past three years and is excited at the chance to return to his natural position.
“I am excited to play my most comfortable position at forward, but I feel like the past three years at midfielder has made me a better forward actually,” Sykes said. “I have learned a lot since I have been at Maryville College about different styles of play that will help me compete against other countries in the tournament and against my own team in practice as well.”
This progression is something Coach Jon Baker echoed.
“Jonathan has come along way since his freshman year,” Baker said. “His decision making, speed and knowledge of different systems and style of play have improved greatly.”
Baker believes that Sykes will use this to do great things in the CONCACAF qualifying bracket.
“Soccer is a worldwide game and is played differently everywhere you go,” he said. “I think that Jonathan has had a chance to get the best of both worlds since he has come to the United States by being able to master both styles of play.
I have no doubt that he will represent Maryville College excellently and will accolade the benefits on his great work ethic in the Bahamas.”
Sykes hopes to pursue a professional soccer career after he graduates from Maryville College and this unique opportunity will no question give him excellent exposure expand his game and to accomplish that goal.
Sykes Prepares for National Team
Tim Foster, MC Sports Information