The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team secured a sensational 2-2 draw with Guatemala in a thrilling Group F encounter on Thursday evening at the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships in Bradenton, Florida.
After the coaching staff led their players out onto the field to battle with Guatemala, the number two seed in Group F, a minute of silence was observed before kickoff in remembrance of Winston Chung-Fah, former Cayman technical director and national coach, who had died that afternoon.
The game started with the Guatemalans taking the offensive, pinning the Cayman team in their half and not allowing them any possession. Although under pressure, the Caymanians fashioned the game’s first real scoring opportunity in the 9th minute as Kion Parchmont failed to make contact with a cross from the boot of Rohelio Wright.
Four minutes later, the Guatemalans were awarded a controversial penalty, taking the lead 1-0 to Guatemala.
In the 30th minute, a spectacular solo finish by Cayman’s center forward Parchmont leveled the score at 1-1 after he latched onto a Trey Ebanks pass.
Guatemala regained the lead in the 33rd minute after the Cayman defense failed to deal with a dangerous cross from the opposition’s left flank.
In the 41st minute, just before halftime, Cayman called for a penalty as Parchmont was bundled over in the Guatemalan penalty area, but the Panamanian referee saw no foul and waved play to continue.
In the 48th minute, Cayman made its first substitute as Trey Ebanks made way for Mason Duval and in the 55th minute, Jayden Downey was replaced by Cody Ebanks.
These key substitutions proved to be a turning point in the game as six minutes later, Duval leveled the score at 2-2 as he pounced on a rebound from a Leighton Thomas 30-yard “pile driver” that the Guatemalan goalkeeper could not deal with.
Feeling the pressure, the Guatemalans poured everything into attack but could not break down the resilient Cayman midfield and rearguard.
Cayman’s goalkeeper Albertini Holness had another great game, as he was exceptional between the posts.
In the 65th minute, the local boys had a second penalty claim denied as Parchmont was clumsily brought down in the penalty area by the Guatemalan goalkeeper. The assistant referee began to raise his flag to signal a foul had been committed but quickly put it down after the referee failed to blow his whistle.
In the 84th minute, Jah Dain Alexander was introduced for Cody Ebanks to solidify the Cayman midfield and defense.
In the 89th minute, against the run of play, the Cayman Islanders had the chance to steal the show, but Thomas’ lob over the onrushing Guatemalan goalkeeper trickled just wide of the post.
The local boys fought through the extra three minutes of play and at the sounding of the final whistle, the Cayman bench erupted with joy. The Cayman Islands had just drawn with a major footballing nation from Central America – a huge achievement for the team and the nation they represent.