Confidence up as Digicel Cup nears

The Carl Brown coached Cayman Islands national men’s team matched up to the Clarendon All Stars last weekend and from their showing have improved considerably.

Cayman played two friendly games on Saturday and Sunday and the Jamaicans won the first 2-1 and Cayman triumphed in the second 1-0.

These games were part of Brown’s idea for preparing the national team for participation in Stage Two of the Caribbean Football Union Digicel Caribbean Championship Cup to be played in Guadeloupe between October 9-16.

During the first game which the visitors came from behind to defeat the Caymanians after veteran national striker Gary ‘Wizard’ Whittaker accurately placed a cross past goal keeper Shane Thomas in the fifth minute.

The Caymanians controlled the game for the most part and ending 1-0 up.

During the second half changes were made and with the introduction of Ethwal Coleman the Clarendonians started to dominate the game.

Brown substituted keeper Mario Dinnal and in the 68th minute Kevin Mighty worked his way through and levelled the score.

Coach Brown in the process of accessing how well the players in training could stand up to their overseas opponents continued to make substitutions this resulted in another goal being scored by the hosts in the 77th minute by dangerman Coleman to seal victory.

Sunday was the day when most of the top local players came out. With the likes of Rene Carter, Jermaine ‘Wacky Dip’ Brown in goal, Calvin Jefford, Phillip Berry and Leighton Elliott, plus Tom Elliot on the bench, it was a totally different affair. All who missed out on that game missed something spectacular.

The Clarendon team thought they would have a comfortable win again but they were given a rude awakening as Cayman took it to them from the first sound of FIFA referee Alfredo Whittaker’s whistle.

Waldo Ricketts and the entire defensive unit came under extreme pressure to keep the forceful Cayman boys at bay.

Cayman attacked endlessly, taking shots from all angles in an effort to go ahead in the first half. This was not to be so as the visitors did all that was possible to maintain a goalless first half.

Both teams regrouped during the half time break and came out with different plans for victory but Cayman looked more purposeful.

Calvin Jefford, Carson Fagan and Gary Whittaker lurked anxiously up front to kick one in but this was not to be until the 84th minute the prolific Jefford got the golden opportunity from 18 yards and found the pigeon hole to land his team victory.

Carson Fagan got sent off for pushing but apart from that Cayman’s overall performance was excellent.

Without question, the Cayman Islands team has made significant improvements in every aspect. Carl Brown and his technical staff will not have an easy task selecting a team for the Guadeloupe games.

The difficulty for the selection lies in the energy that these players have garnered over the past months since they were training together.

They have gelled and are like family with their eyes set on getting past Guadeloupe and then on to Kingston, Jamaica to participate in the finals in December.

Cayman defeated St Martins 3-0 and drew 1-1 and 0-0 with Antigua and Barbuda and Bermuda respectively in Group C of the tournament played here in the Cayman Islands last month. During these games it was clear that the players wanted to go forward based on their performance.

This crop of dedicated players have silenced detractors who thought they were not good enough to make it to the second stage of this competition.

It needs no spectacles to see that these players are looking ahead with the view of placing the Cayman Islands further up on the FIFA rankings.

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