Cash rewards should kick in

Cayman Islands 0 
Suriname 1

The Cayman Islands cannot progress in the World Cup Qualifiers after their third successive defeat in Group A of the North and Central America standings. They must look at fresh ways of improving the national team set up if progressing beyond the early rounds is a burning desire. 

Although all Cayman players are totally amateur, a financial incentive needs to be introduced – as happened here a few years ago with training expenses – if the Cayman Islands Football Association is serious about elevating the side in the FIFA rankings. This is the view of technical director Carl Brown who witnessed spectacular success when he was a coach with Jamaica’s Reggae Boyz who against all odds got to the World Cup Finals in 1998. 

Cayman lost 1-0 to Suriname at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Friday. With all the possession the visitors had they could have won by a much wider margin.  

Cayman started brightly – if a little too cautiously – and that was reflected by the massive possession advantage Suriname had. The visitors won the first fixture at home 1-0 last month and showed confidence of repeating that result from the off.  

With Theron Wood and Mark Ebanks darting around in the Cayman front line, the Suriname defence was kept on its toes, but it was Jedd Ebanks who had Cayman’s best chance in front of a sparse but vocal crowd. With two defenders advancing, the ball sat up nicely for Jedd but his shot sailed over.  

Wood was put through and seemed to be nudged over by a Suriname defender but no penalty was given. Losing Nick Ebanks to injury near the end of the half did not help Cayman’s cause. Early in the second half two significant things happened which affected the course of the match; Cayman captain Ian Lindo hobbled off too with a hip injury and Giovanni Drenthe scored. His low shot was just too fierce for the advancing Miguel Pitta who had been solid in goal up to that point.  

Pitta’s misery was compounded when he upended an advancing striker and given a straight red card. Pitta misses the match against group leaders El Salvador on Tuesday and gives coach Brown an even bigger goalkeeping headache because there is only a small pool for him to pick from. Striker Raheem Robinson replaced Pitta in goal and did a great job in the few minutes remaining, stopping a stinging free kick that resulted from Pitta’s indiscretion. 

Mark Ebanks troubled the Suriname keeper with a couple of good shots from range and Woody had his moments, but the equaliser never really looked like coming.  

El Salvador beat Cayman 4-1 in George Town last month. They have won all three matches so must be brimming with confidence for Tuesday’s game. It doesn’t bode well for Cayman which emphasises Brown’s point that investment in the team is the only way forward.  

Brown said: “To improve we need to play more international games. It’s always going to be tough to build confidence when you don’t play often enough. I’ve seen the growth and development of the Jamaican team, from doing that. When we used to play against Central American teams we’d get that sort of performance.  

“It’s a lack of confidence all the time that bothers me about this team. These players are capable of doing a lot more than they believe. It’s just trying to encourage them to play as well as I believe they can play. 

“If you look at the attendance we had tonight, it sums up that Cayman don’t have people that believe that their players are capable of doing it. Passion from the supporters will help inspire the players and get them to another level.” 

Brown had a problem attracting players to train for this match. The best way to motivate them, he feels is to give a monetary incentive. “I think it’s time we started to treat the players with the importance that I believe they should get. Monetary incentives have to be offered.  

“Football has changed over the years. We see players who get millions quarrel and fight about incentives when they represent their countries. Sometimes people feel that it should merely be an honour to represent your country and you shouldn’t be talking about money. None of the supermarkets accept these guys faces when they go in and tell them pack up what you want and move out. It’s about cash.  

“They are ambassadors and it’s time we started treating them like ambassadors. I keep talking about Jamaica because I went through it. We had an Adopt a Player programme. That really turned the entire programme on its head. We had private sector people who came on board and adopted a player and paid them each month. That made a total difference. The president would walk into the room and ask what he could do for the players and I would tell him that if it’s not money then don’t say anything. Against Honduras in the Gold Cup the president told us that he would give us $100,000 if we won. We beat them for the first time ever. It works. We need to at least try it.  

“We keep hearing the talk that the players are not showing enough passion. Somebody else needs to start too. It’s the egg or the chicken, which comes first?” 

CONCACAF Second Round,  

Dominican Republic 1-2 El Salvador 

St. Vincent 0-3 Guatemala 

Belize 1-4 Grenada 

Barbados 0-2 Guyana 

US Virgin Islands 0-7 Haiti 

Dominica 0-5 Panama 

St. Lucia 0-7 Canada 

Bermuda 2-1 Trinidad & Tobago 

Puerto Rico 1-1 St. Kitts & Nevis 

Curacao 0-1 Antigua & Barbuda 

Cayman National Football Team

Cayman’s starting line up against Suriname, back, from left, Nicholas Ebanks, Luigi Hernandez, Miguel Pitta, Michael Johnson, Deon Brandon, Ian Lindo (capt). Front, Benjamin Cupid, Donald Solomon Jnr, Theron Wood, Mark Ebanks, Jedd Ebanks. – PHOTOS: RON SHILLINGFORD
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