Cayman faces Bermuda in a World Cup qualifier next week and despite losing four and drawing the other game in a training camp tour of Jamaica, they saw it as ideal preparation.
Cayman plays Bermuda in Nassau on 3 February and in the second leg in George Town on 30 March.
On paper the results look poor, but in context Cayman didn’t do too badly. It lost to Portmore 1-0, Harbour View 4-0, Sporting Central 4-0, Tivoli 6-0 and drew with Boys Town 1-1. But all are top sides. Harbour View is the Caribbean Cup champions, Portmore won the same trophy last season and Tivoli is the National Premier League leader.
Coached by Carl Brown, the former Reggae Boyz maestro, Cayman took its losses philosophically because the sides it lost to are at their peak and many players are hoping to get into the rejuvenated national side. They too want to go to the World Cup finals in South Africa in two years’ time.
At least Brown had the satisfaction of drawing with his old Trench Town club Boys Town in the final game. He said, ‘The tour was great. I think the players themselves were pretty happy with what we got from it. That to me was very important, that they came away with the sort of experience that will make them better players.
‘That’s what we set out for and it was great that we were able to achieve that. The work attitude and discipline was what I was most pleased with. We hear so much about the Cayman players’ attitude but it was great. They really behaved like ambassadors and I was very proud of them. I’m sure this will go far to helping the players’ confidence and to believe in themselves some more. One thing that is lacking here is that belief in being able to do it. Get out there and do the job. They’ve come away from that tournament far more appreciative of what they’re able to do.’
Midfielder Marshall Forbes was one of the key players. He gave high praise to the Jamaicans and found the experience exhilarating.
‘Playing against the Jamaican teams has definitely made me a better player,’ he said.
‘Carl Brown is one of the best technical directors I have ever worked with. If he gets the full support of the Cayman Islands Football Association, the Ministry of Sports and the corporate community football will definitely take off here. This coach knows what he wants, knows how to do it, all he needs is the support behind him.’
Forbes said the squad that went on the training camp was the best he has ever seen since his involvement in the national programme and the players were eager to learn. He also praised fitness coach Thiago Cunha.
‘He works wonders in his fitness training, I personally feel that this squad, the coaches and the management staff are a unique unit and we all can work together in making Cayman football a success on the international level.’