The Cayman Islands Under-17s dream of advancing to the final round of the Caribbean Football Union Under-17 World Cup qualifiers in Trinidad and Tobago as Group 2 winners ended on Sunday evening with a 2-4 loss to defending champions Haiti.
The Cayman team found themselves in contention for the group win after defeating Aruba 4-0 last Wednesday and Puerto Rico 2-0 on Friday. Likewise, Haiti defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 in the earlier Wednesday game and destroyed Aruba 10-0 on Friday afternoon.
Haiti was favored following their decisive wins, but the Cayman team began the game determined to exert pressure on the untested Haitian defense and goalkeeper.
Two quick goals – a penalty in the third minute from Kion Parchmont, and a Rico Bodden screamer in the 11th minute – brought the local crowd to their feet as the Cayman team rattled their Haitian counterparts. Not to be outdone, Haiti slowly clawed their way back and scored just before halftime in the 42nd minute to cut the deficit in half.
Three unanswered goals during the second half in the 62nd, 77th and 90th minutes sealed the victory for the defending Caribbean Under-17 champions and a place in the final round.
Haiti advances to the final round, along with Jamaica, Bermuda, Curacao, Guadeloupe, Suriname, Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago.
Neil Murray, coordinator for the Under-17 national football program, said, “The boys were naturally very disappointed with the result and their performance against Haiti. It’s a hard lesson to learn, especially when you give up a two-goal lead, but the Haitians are a quality team and their tenacity, play, fitness level, dedication and commitment is what we need to emulate in order to compete at this level. “We’re proud of the boys for their efforts,” he added.
“We’ll learn from this tournament and move on as we begin preparing for the CFU Under-20 World Cup qualifiers, which begin in 2018.”
Murray noted that the team made too many mistakes during the game, especially in the second half, “and our concentration level deteriorated as did our stamina and fitness as the game wore on.
“We also did not manage the game well, and that stems from a lack of experience. We had some good individual performances over the three games from players such as D’Andre Rowe, Rohelio Wright, Albertini Holness, Rico Bodden and others, but football is a team game and we need the entire 11 to do their part, especially at the international level.”
Scorers for the Cayman Islands in the 4-0 win over Aruba on Wednesday evening included Cody Ebanks, Alex Clarke-Ramirez, Kareem Foster and Kion Parchmont, and against Puerto Rico on Friday evening, Rico Bodden and Kion Parchmont found the target as Cayman won 2-0.