The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team lost to Curacao 2-4 in their final Group F game of the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships in Bradenton, Florida, Saturday.
A win would have cemented a second place finish for the Cayman Islands, which tied on points with Guatemala in Group F although the Central Americans boasted a superior goal difference.
Still on a high from their thrilling 2-2 draw with Guatemala on Thursday, the Cayman team’s confidence took a blow in the 13th minute as Curacao took the lead.
Cayman equalized in the 26th minute with a goal from Kareem Foster, and went ahead in the 34th minute as Alexander Clarke-Ramirez scored his first tournament goal.
As was the case in the previous games, the local boys’ complacency led to their downfall and Curacao was back on level terms in the 36th minute.
With fatigue setting in for both teams after five days of grueling competition, play swung from end to end as chances were spurned by both teams.
In the 71st minute, disaster struck for the Cayman Islands as captain D’Andre Rowe picked up an injury, ushering in an unscheduled substitution.
Capitalizing on this, Curacao scored in the 73rd, and again in the 79th minute to record their second win of the tournament and third place in the group behind El Salvador and Guatemala, and ahead of the Cayman Islands and Guyana.
The Cayman Islands finished the tournament with one win, one draw and two losses against the opposition, with their best performance being against Guatemala in the 2-2 draw.
The most important thing the players learned from this tournament is that the Cayman Islands can compete on the international stage at major regional tournaments such as this with some of the more established countries in CONCACAF.
The future looks very bright for youth football as CIFA looks forward to competing in the Men’s Olympic Qualifiers and CONCACAF Under 17 Boys’ Championships in April 2019, CONCACAF Under 15 Boys’ Championships in August 2019 and the CONCACAF Under 17 Girls’ Championships in July or August 2019.