Cayman Islands finished their round of World Cup qualifiers in a positive way after a dismal run of previous defeats. They drew 1-1 with Dominican Republic at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Monday night.
The visitors went ahead in the 41st minute through a wonderful Cesar Garcia free kick. But that was trumped by a touch of Markie Ebanks brilliance in the 74th minute when the Scholars International striker turned his marker on the left, cut in and unleashed an unstoppable shot. Ebanks had shown his intent earlier in the game when he hit the crossbar.
There were many positives Cayman could take from this game. Collectively they were more unified than before, with the midfield working particularly well. Captain Ian Lindo led the charge with Dion Brandon and Jedd Ebanks making excellent contributions. The Cayman defence with Luigi Hernandez and Andre ‘Blacka’ McFarlane solid in central defence and Theron Wood was just as effective as Ebanks up front.
It was a significant turnaround following a 4-0 defeat to Dominican Republic in San Cristobal on Friday in the
CONCACAF Round 2. The Digicel Cup finals will be held here in June so there is plenty of incentive for technical director Carl Brown to keep the nucleus of a very young side – average age 22 – together.
Ebanks was booked for removing his jersey in celebration, but probably thought it was worth it. “Internationally, it was the best goal I’ve scored,” said a jubilant Ebanks who has scored over 10 international goals at various levels. “From the time I got past the first guy I was thinking of just letting it loose to see what happens.
“I work at cutting in from the left and firing in training. I’m inspired by Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. I’m naturally gifted with shooting from anywhere, so just tried it and scored.”
He expects to keep his form at club level. “I scored two goals when coming back from injury for Scholars and we’re still undefeated and top of the league and I hope we can stay there.
“We have the Digicel Cup next year so we’ll continue to train hard and go as far as we can in that. With the same team we have now I think we can make it far in that.”
Ebanks, who will be 21 on Boxing Day, was training with semi-pro side Ashford Town in west London at the end of last year but came back for various reasons. “Now I’m hoping to go for a trial in Major League Soccer with the Portland Timbers in January.”