When the Cayman girls trot out onto the field at the TE McField Stadium tomorrow, they will 90 minutes away from making local football history.
If Cayman advance against the Dominican Republic it will be the first time ever that any team, male or female, has got this far in a CONCACAF World Cup competition.
Expectations are high but not impossible, judging by the way they handled the Dominicans on their own turf last Saturday in the 2-2 draw.
The girls have worked hard all week and were rewarded with a special dinner at Casanova’s restaurant in George Town on Tuesday with Minister of Sport Mark Scotland in attendance.
All the support team was there too including head coach Bobby McLaren, technical director Thiago Cunha, manager Gloria Gall, football association president Jeffrey Webb, treasurer Canover Watson, press officer Beverly Melbourne and administrator Keisha Miller.
After encouraging speeches by Scotland, Webb and McLaren, vice-captain Brianna Hydes graciously stood up and thanked them all for their years of guidance and support to rapturous applause.
McLaren said: ‘I learnt from last Saturday that these girls are a very resilient bunch. They proved themselves that regardless of the circumstances they have what it takes to get the job done.
‘I don’t think I’ll change our tactics because we were well ahead in the game but it was just unfortunate that we lost our keeper and didn’t have a back up keeper.
‘God has worked it out that Emily is okay and she’ll be playing in this game. The future looks good for us and I just thank God.’
Cayman’s Ashley Broad was man of the match last week. She said: ‘I’m very confident going into the game because it is our home field and we’re not going to let them beat us.
‘They were very physical and gave us a good fight. They like to foul a lot but the referee didn’t give us any calls.’
Scotland said: ‘I hope a lot of people will be at the TE McField Stadium because this team is very good. I’ve been watching their development over the years and seen their success already and I can only encourage the country to come and support this wonderful girl’s team.
‘I think they’re going to do great things for our country. I commend them for their dedication and commitment so far. Obviously, it’s just the tip of the iceberg and they have a long way to go in football for Cayman.
‘Qualifying for the latter stages of a World Cup for Cayman at any level is extremely difficult.’
Webb gave credit to Bernie Bush who started the girls programme three years a ago. ‘Bernie has really laid the foundations. The football association and government have partnered and made a huge amount of investment in this programme, over $200,000.
‘We feel great that the country will now be able to see them and hopefully rejoice tomorrow night with their success. We’re very grateful to the government for their support and underwriting various costs.’