U20 team fall in opening CONCACAF match

| 05/11/2018
CNS Local Life

U20 national team line-up that faced El Salvador (L-R, standing) Kameron Mendez, Kion Parchmont, Albertini Holness, Ackeem Hyde and Eric Wilson; (L-R, kneeling) Alex Clarke-Ramirez, Kareem Foster, Leighton Thomas, Mason Duval, D’Andre Rowe and Kailan Miller

(CIFA): The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team lost their opening Group F game to El Salvador 1-3 on Sunday evening at the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. Although the official CONCACAF record books will show the score to be a loss for the Cayman Islands, what they will not show is the exemplary 90-minute performance by the local boys against a traditionally strong Central American footballing nation.

After watching El Salvador defeat Curacao on Friday, 2 November, the Cayman Islands coaching staff had a good idea of what to expect from their opponents – physical, very quick passing, excellent movement with great technical abilities. Sunday night would be no different.

Taking centre stage in front of a fairly large crowd at the IMG Soccer Complex, the Islanders started the game as a very compact unit allowing El Salvador much of the possession but attacking them when their opponents ventured over the half-line.

The local boys were disciplined in their approach, working very hard, defending well and holding their own until the 37th minute when a lapse in concentration resulted in an unfortunate penalty for El Salvador.

El Salvador were up 1-0 and three minutes later, a defensive lapse from a corner resulted in a second goal for the Central Americans. Down two goals, the local boys were obviously dejected but they continued to absorb the pressure and made it to halftime with the score 2-0.

With the same 11 taking the field for the second half, a ‘refreshing’ wind blew across the immaculately kept facility as the Islanders began to exert pressure on their opponents further up the field.

In the 51st minute, El Salvador were quickest to a loose ball in the local boy’s penalty area to make it 3-0. A change was inevitable for the local team and Kameron Mendez was replaced up front by Cody Ebanks.

Almost immediately, the Cayman Islands team found themselves on the offensive as El Salvador naturally fell into a more defensive shell, up 3-0 and in their minds, coasting. It was not to be.

In the 55th minute, the Cayman Islands pulled a goal back from a free kick off the boot of dead ball specialist Kareem Foster, and what a wonderful goal it was. The crowd was in awe as young Foster perfectly placed his curving ‘masterpiece’ into the top corner, the ball ‘kissing’ the underside of the cross bar before nestling in the back of the net. At full stretch, the tall El Salvadorian goalkeeper could do absolutely nothing.

Inspired to make amends for the three ‘soft’ goals conceded, the local boys went on the attack. In the 63rd minute, Kareem Foster hit the post from a 25-yard blast, which had the El Salvadorian goalkeeper again at full stretch. Leighton Thomas was quickest to the rebound but couldn’t direct his shot on target.

In the 66th and 70th minutes, reinforcements were injected into the game as Trey Ebanks replaced Kion Parchmont and Jabari Campbell came on for Ackeem Hyde. The local boys were on the offensive and were taking the game to their opponents. In the 72nd minute, Mason Duval’s effort went just wide and Cody Ebanks and Alex Clarke-Ramirez had efforts which were well saved.

Alas, as time expired, El Salvador celebrated the victory but the local boys, although exhausted, were commended by their opponents as they made their way off the field.

Commenting on the game, head coach Ernie “Gillie” Seymour said, “We played a very tough match last night against the top-seeded team in our group and did very well. Our players showed great character throughout the match and were very unlucky not to score two or three more goals.

“Our inexperience was our greatest downfall as we lapsed in concentration in certain key instances, but overall, the coaching staff was pleased with the performance. This game was an example of what can be achieved with this group as the potential do well on the on the international stage is there but the Cayman Islands as a whole needs to better support all our youth national programmes.”

The Cayman Islands look to redeem themselves against Guyana today (Tuesday, 6 November) at 10:30am at the IMG Soccer Complex before they play Guatemala on Thursday, 8 November and Curacao on Saturday, 10 November.

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Category: Football, Sports

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