Cayman’s biggest football match in years draws closer and one man who is absolutely certain of victory is Alden McLaughlin.
The sports and education minister has no doubt that Cayman will go through to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers on Sunday.
Bermuda stand in the way to an exciting encounter with Trinidad and Tobago in June. After drawing 1-1 with Bermuda last month, thanks to a wonderful equaliser by Richard Grant, Cayman only need a 0-0 draw to beat Bermuda on Sunday at the newly developed Truman Bodden Complex because of the away goal. McLaughlin is sure that they can win outright and will be one of the 3,000 packed into the ground cheering on the side led by Tom Elliot.
Centre back Elliot along with defensive partner Martin Laud will be two of the busiest players on the field, along with Tuda Muphy, the Cayman keeper and only pro in the team. He plays for Glenavon in the Irish Premier League.
‘Cayman is going to beat Bermuda 2-1,’ insisted McLaughlin on Tuesday night as he watched the squad train at Truman Bodden. ‘Bermuda is probably going to score first. That is just based on me, not any scientific assessment. We’ve got the home crowd and home pitch and I believe all indications are that Cayman is going to be out in full force to support the team and I think that’s going to be the difference.
‘The fact that they drew with Bermuda 1-1 there bodes well for Cayman on home turf and I think we really should have the edge.
‘I can’t recall this much effort being put into a match by the national team in many a year. We’ve had two visiting teams here who have played four games. They went over to Jamaica and played three games last week and they’ve been practising non stop.
‘I see no reason why we shouldn’t go through despite what the detractors in Bermuda are saying about us being no better than a pub team.
Yes, with the exception of Tuda Murphy all our guys are amateurs but they work very hard and they’re passionate and very proud to play for Cayman. To play here will give them the edge.’
All World Cup games are seated only. No one is allowed to stand. Every ticket has to have a gate number, section number, row number and seat number. The capacity is 3,077 and under no circumstances will that figure be topped.
Jeffrey Webb, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, emphasised the crowd restrictions for this game.
He said: ‘It’s very important for us that we communicate this to the public. We want everyone to get their tickets as early as possible so that there’s a chance that you can sit down with your family.’
Tickets range from $10 in the East Stand to $15 in the West Grandstand. For those wanting to really splash out, there is a small VIP area where tickets are $80. Tickets are available at all Western Union locations and also Funky Tangs, Captain’s Bakery, Digicel (the chief sponsors) and Galleria.