Lindo sets the tone as Digicel action starts

The Cayman national football team
is in its last couple of weeks of training after months of preparation for the
Digicel Cup first-round matches.

They travel to San Juan, Puerto
Rico, to play against the hosts, Anguilla and Bahamas next month and hope to
match their achievements of last time and get through to the second round.
Technical Director Carl Brown has been working with them intensively for the
18-22 August matches. On Sunday Cayman played a practice game with Roma,
winning 3-1. 

Teenage defender Luigi Hernandez
played for half that game. He is captain of the youthful Bodden Town senior
side. Although only 17, Hernandez is already well established in the Premier
League as one of Cayman’s best and is bursting to prove his worth on the
international stage.

“It was a long time coming for me
and I’m very proud to be representing my country in an international
tournament,” he said. “Bodden Town finished second behind Scholars in the
league in our first season in the Premier League and got to the final of the
Digicel Cup which was good.

“My form last season was good but
not as good as this season which is much better. I’ve been training hard every
day at national team training. I’ve played three times for the national side
but this is my first tournament.

“I’m looking forward to this
tournament and winning it so that we can forward to the next round and also
qualify for the Gold Cup and get to the World Cup. It’s all about trying. Hard
work does pay off.

“Coach Brown has improved my game
with my vision and on my technical work. He makes me understand my position
more. My dream is to be a professional footballer and if that doesn’t work out
I can always get a football scholarship to study.”

At the end of the Digicel
tournament, Hernandez is lined up for some trials with professional clubs in
England, including Stoke City, Birmingham City, Doncaster and Wolves. “My hope
is to become a first team player but if not reserves will do!” 

Captain Ian Lindo is also in fine
form. The experienced George Town midfielder will lead a pretty inexperienced
side but he hopes for the best. He too played in the second half against Roma.

Lindo, 27, is administrator at DMS
Corporate Services. He said: “We have Puerto Rico for the last game so we hope
to get two wins first off and see how it goes in the last game.

“Last season George Town did pretty
good but with the intensity of training, I picked up a few niggling injuries.
I’m getting over that now. Today is my first full practice game because I’ve
been out with a groin strain so it’s good to be back.”

He has not entirely given up hopes
of turning pro. “There’s always at the back of your mind that if it does come
I’ll take it. I’m at the age now where teams are pretty much looking for
younger guys than me. But I still play to the best of my ability because you
never know, playing in this tournament I might catch somebody’s eye and I’ll
get my shot. If the opportunity does present itself, I’ll take it full on.

“Coach Brown has instilled in us
discipline. Whether it is personal discipline or tactical. In Cayman, before he
came, everybody could play but they wouldn’t play the right way. Carl Brown has
broken us out of some of our bad habits and got us to play more as a team.”

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Lindo expects to win the Digicel group.
Photo: Ron Shillingford
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