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Bailey happy with Gold Cup experience

Published:Saturday | July 6, 2019 | 12:17 AMRobert Bailey/Gleaner Writer
Leon Bailey
Leon Bailey

Having received his first taste of international football with the Reggae Boyz at the Concacaf Gold Cup tournament, midfielder Leon Bailey has said that he has benefited a lot from the experience. Bailey said he is looking to build on this experience for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Bailey, who played in three of the Reggae Boyz’s four matches at the tournament, told The Gleaner shortly after the team’s arrival at the Norman Manley International Airport on Thursday evening that while he is disappointed with Wednesday’s 3-1 loss to the United States in the semi-finals, he was very grateful for the opportunity to represent the country.

“It was great, and it was a great experience to be there to experience so much different cities, cultures, and to play against different countries. For me, it was new and so the adaptation was a bit slow, but I got there,” said Bailey.

“This whole tournament was a learning experience for the whole team, and, as you can see, we have a team that is on the verge and gelling well together, and I see a team that has a lot of potential and is destined for greatness,” Bailey added.

“The most important thing that is coming up is the qualifiers for the World Cup, and I think we have a team that can do very well, and that is the main focus for me and the team right now,” Bailey said.

Hampered by injury

The 21-year-old Bailey, who plies his trade for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga, was hampered by an ankle injury, that he picked up in the second game against Honduras. He said that this affected his performance during the tournament.

“It was very difficult gelling with the team in terms of playing style,” said Bailey. “I was injured, and during the tournament, I was playing with an ankle injury as well, and I was always playing with pain, and so it was a lot, but as a professional, you have to know how to handle the situation.”

“I believe that it wasn’t my best, but I think in [Wednesday’s] game, I felt comfortable, and I think that slowly but surely, I am coming back to top form,” Bailey said.