Cayman’s national footballers are back in serious training to prepare for the first round of the World Cup qualifiers in February.
They face arch-rivals Bermuda away on 6 February and the return leg is here on 27 March. The winners will take on Trindad & Tobago in the next round, again over two legs.
At the North Side playing field on Monday night, technical director Carl Brown put them through punishing drills for a couple of hours. Players pouring with sweat, were wringing their shirts out at the end. Every Monday and Wednesday for the next two months will be a similar grueling session. Festive season over-indulgence will have to be kept to a minimum.
Brown is a tough but fair coach who demands nothing less than 100 per cent effort. He said: ‘This is our World Cup. This is not just about qualifying for the next round, this is Cayman Islands’ World Cup final.
‘I’m very encouraged by what I saw out here tonight. Their work and attitude was very good. There were 20 here and there are a few other players invited and I really encourage them to come out and represent this island. This island deserves the best to represent them and if there’s a problem we need to sit down and talk about it. It cannot be solved if they are not here.’
Cayman drew with Bermuda 0-0 in Cuba in September in the Olympic Under-23s qualifiers. ‘That match was a measuring stick. We’re even keel with the Bermudians. What we do between now and 6 February will probably make the difference and the players need to recognize that this is a great opportunity for them to be part of the World Cup.’
As well as established players, Brown has high hopes for squad members Ian Lindo, Jermaine Seymour and Allean Grant. ‘Ian and Jermaine are two players who have come through the system here. Ian went away to school and is back home now and is playing pretty well for George Town. Jermaine is doing well too. People need to know about these players that I believe are as good as any players that I’ve seen across the Caribbean. Grant is a Honduran who is eligible to play for the Cayman Islands. Technically a very good player. A lot of people don’t know about the quality we have out here and we’re encouraging them to be part of this programme.’