The Cayman Islands defeated Bahamas 3-1 to mark their third win in the CONCACAF Under-15 Group A at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Sunday, but only a totally unexpected result can get them to the semi-finals.
Man of the Match Zachary Scott scored Cayman’s first goal in the 11th minute, Leighton Thomas Jr. added the second in the 16th and Sebastian Martinez in the 30th. Re’John Ene scored from a penalty for Bahamas in the 63rd minute.
That was Cayman’s third win in four games. They play Aruba at the Truman Bodden complex on Tuesday. Aruba are a competent side who have also won three out of four. Both these teams have been defeated by table toppers Bermuda, who face the tournament’s weakest side, St. Maarten, at Ed Bush on Tuesday. Kick-off is at 7.30pm.
Cayman beat St. Maarten 12-0 in their opener, and Aruba smashed them too, 10-0. Only a miracle can prevent Bermuda also winning handsomely and reaching that coveted semi-final spot on Friday.
At least Cayman can reflect on a superb performance against Bahamas, who only lost to undefeated Bermuda by a single goal.
All three Cayman goals were expertly taken, belying the youthfulness of the scorers.
Scott cleverly slipped around the Bahamas keeper to slot home, Thomas reacted fastest to score past the oncoming keeper, and Martinez deftly lobbed over a packed defence from outside the box.
Scott said, “Against Bahamas we just tried to stick to our game plan, play our hardest and keep possession, and it worked.
“After losing to Bermuda on Friday, our coaches told us to show some character and do our best in this game because winners, that’s what they do.”
Cayman’s head coach Dion Brandon said, “We got beaten on Friday so someone had to pay. I believe the game is won and lost in midfield, so we tried to keep the game compact and flowing and play possessive football.
“Zachary stepped up, played his game, and we couldn’t ask for any more. He plays a big part in the team, he’s a big asset and he was complemented by a lot of good players around him.”
Brandon is resigned to Bermuda beating St. Maarten to go through to the semis as Group A winners. Nevertheless, he is happy that his players got the experience of international tournament football in front of fantastic home support.
“It has been pretty impressive football for their age,” he said. “I can safely say that every Cayman player has improved both mentally and physically.
“We’ve got to give thanks to the community coaches for developing them this far and our job was just to tweak them to get the best out of them.
“The fans speak for themselves. If you look up in the stands, there are 600 or 700 red shirts. It helped the boys perform the way they did.”
Bermuda defeated Aruba 3-1 in the first match. US Virgin Islands beat St. Maarten 3-2. Brandon Potmis opened the score in the 9th minute.
In Sunday’s first Group B game at TE McField Annex, Grenada defeated St. Lucia 2-0. With a late first-half goal by Man of the Match Francisco Fuentes, Guatemala top the group while Belize are tied in second place with Jamaica.
In Group D, Haiti defeated St. Vincent & Grenadines 2-0. Before Monday night’s action, group leaders were El Salvador on seven points, followed by Puerto Rico and Haiti.
Tuesday’s games at Truman Bodden start with Bahamas against US Virgin Islands (4.30pm), Jamaica v Guatemala (6pm) and Cayman against Aruba (7.30pm).
At the Ed Bush field, Grenada play Belize at 6pm and Bermuda face St. Maarten at 7.30pm.
All matches are free entry, but there will be an admission charge for the semi-finals and final this weekend.