Cayman hardly broke a sweat

Winning 9-1 in a practice match can
be fun but it’s not really satisfying when the opposition is weak and
inexperienced and you’re preparing for a big tournament in two weeks’ time. But
that’s the sort of preparation the Cayman national football side had on Sunday
as they hone themselves for the big test of Digicel Caribbean Cup football in
Puerto Rico.

Technical Director Carl Brown
admitted they could have done with a more rigorous test at this stage but with
Cayman Islands Football Association funds low, there was no hope of flying
overseas for a training camp or bringing in better opposition, which is the
norm. Sign of the recessionary times.

Cayman play Puerto Rico in the
third game on 22 August and before that have comparatively easy matches against
Anguilla and the Bahamas. Stiffer opposition came last week when Cayman beat
Roma 3-1 in a practice but the drubbing of East End at the TE McField Annex
this time was merely a stroll. They barely needed to break sweat. East End are
the newly promoted First Division champions. An exceptionally young side, even
with the addition of Bodden Town players Arvid Harris and Charlo McLean, they
were still mostly teenagers.

The fact that Cayman changed all
their outfield players at half-time also made the lop-sided match even more
likely to become merely a cruise for the better side. To their credit, East
End, coached by Thiago Cunha, fought gamely to the end and deserve praise for
their pluckiness.

Cayman’s scorers were Tex
Whitelocke (5), Rolly Bodden (2) and one apiece for Theron Wood and Jairo
Sanchez. At least Cayman have three quality strikers in Whitelocke, Wood and
Mark Ebanks to call upon in the Digicel Cup. Wood, 20, was one of the Premier
League’s top scorers last season in Bodden Town’s first campaign in the Premier
League. He can play either centre-forward or on the left wing.

Wood said: “Last season my form was
alright but I feel I’ve got better because I’ve been training so hard for this
competition. I’m going for trials in England after the Digicel Cup and I
believe in myself and will try to do my best and just see what happens. We expect
to win the group in Puerto Rico. We’re confident in each other. We’re a pretty
young squad and we’re trying to gel.”

Mark Ebanks was first featured in
this paper a couple of years ago and the Future striker has confirmed his
potential. He too will be going with Wood and Luigi Hernandez for trials in a
few weeks’ time. “My football has got better playing with the national team,
improved a lot,” said Ebanks, 19. He relies on his speed, clever runs and
awareness to frustrate the opposition. He used to make and instal shutters with
his father but is going back to school soon and concentrating on his football

Ebanks said. “I’d like to take my
football much further. I’d like to make it in England. That’s a dream. I love
Manchester United and would love to play for them one day.” Their trials are at
Birmingham City, Stoke City and possibly West Ham United.

“I went to England with the US
Soccer Academy a few years ago and did well and think I can do it again,” added
Ebanks. “We went to Scotland too and won the tournament and I got leading goal
scorer. For the Digicel Cup we’ve been training really hard so we should do
well. Puerto Rico are the hardest team in our group. We’ll just have to play
harder against them and see how it goes.” 

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