U20 team lose to Curacao in final match

| 12/11/2018
CNS Local Life

U20 men’s starting line-up against Curacao

(CNS Local Life): The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team lost to Curacao 2-4 in their final Group F game on Saturday, 11 November at the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. A win would have cemented a second-place finish for the Cayman Islands tied on points with Guatemala in Group F although the Central Americans boasted a superior goal difference.

Earlier in the tournament, on Thursday, 8 November, the local boys earned a thrilling 2-2 draw with Guatemala, stated a Cayman Islands Football Association (CIFA) press release. But before taking to the field for that match, the Cayman Islands contingent was informed that legendary football coach Winston ‘Chung Fah’ Chung had passed away that afternoon.

With heavy hearts and tears in their eyes, CIFA said, the coaching staff led their players out on to the field to do battle with Guatemala, the number two seed in Group F. Prior to kick-off, a minute of silence was observed in honour and remembrance of the renowned FIFA coach.

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Cayman’s Jabari Campbell (blue and red) in action during the Guatemala match

In Saturday’s final game against Curacao, the local boys’ confidence earned from the Guatemala draw was “quickly shattered” in the 13th minute as Curacao took the lead, CIFA said. The Cayman Islands equalised in the 26th minute through Kareem Foster and went ahead in the 34th minute as Alexander Clarke-Ramirez scored his first tournament goal.

As so often was the case in the previous games, the local boys’ complacency led to their downfall and Curacao was back on level terms in the 36th minute, CIFA said.

With fatigue setting in for both teams after five days of gruelling competition and the warm weather affecting the pace of the game, play swung from end to end as chances were spurned by both teams.

In the 71st minute disaster struck for the Cayman Islands as their talismanic captain D’Andre Rowe picked up an injury, which ushered in an unscheduled substitution, CIFA said.

Capitalising on this unfortunate situation, Curacao scored in the 73rd and 79th minutes to record their second win of the tournament and third place in the group behind El Salvador, Guatemala and ahead of the Cayman Islands and Guyana.

The Cayman Islands finished the tournament with one win, one draw and two losses against quality opposition. Clearly, the local boys’ best performance was against Guatemala in that 2-2 draw, the release stated.

Overall, “the team did the Cayman Islands proud”, CIFA said, and, as in any sport, if circumstances were different and chances taken, results may have been more positive.

The single most important thing the players learned from this tournament is that the Cayman Islands can compete on the international stage at major regional tournaments such as this with some of the stronger more established countries in CONCACAF.

The future looks “very bright for youth football”, CIFA said, with upcoming competitions comprising the Men’s Olympic Qualifiers in April 2019; CONCACAF Under 17 Boys’ Championships also in April; CONCACAF Under 15 Boys’ Championships in August; and the CONCACAF Under 17 Girls’ Championships in July or August.

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Category: Football, Sports

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