CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers: Cayman comes up short against Grenada

Grenada’s Darren Modoo puts a shot on net for what would ultimately be the winning score in Thursday’s game.

Cayman’s journey for Olympic qualification in football became a little tougher Wednesday night, when Grenada earned a victory in a tightly contested 1‑0 game at Truman Bodden Sports Complex.

The two teams went shoulder to shoulder in a physical first half that brought no goals, and Grenadian midfielder Darren Modoo put the road team ahead with a goal in the 54th minute. Modoo, wearing No. 9, received a cross into the penalty area and beat Cayman goalie Albertini Holness to score the game’s only goal.

“We’re not happy with the performance, but we’re happy with the result,” said Grenada coach Anthony Modeste. “The first game in any tournament is a crucial game. We can play much better than we did.”

Grenada will play Haiti on Friday at 7:30pm, and then Cayman will play Haiti on Sunday evening. The team that comes out on top this weekend will earn an opportunity to play against Barbados, and the winner in that matchup will earn a spot in the final eight CONCACAF sides vying for an Olympic berth.

Six of those teams – United States, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica, Honduras and El Salvador – have already been decided. The winner of St. Kitts and Nevis versus Dominican Republic will decide the seventh team into the qualifying tournament, and two teams will ultimately qualify for the Olympics from CONCACAF.

Cayman coach Ben Pugh thought his team had a lot to be proud of on Wednesday night.

Cayman captain Joshewa Frederick-Charlery attempts to dribble past a Grenada player on Thursday night. – PHOTOs: Taneos Ramsay

“Confidence will still be high,” he said. “I think they’ll be really pleased with the way they played, but of course frustrated and disappointed to lose. If we beat Haiti and Haiti beats Grenada, we give ourselves every chance. I know it was a tough game, but we were the better team today.”

Cayman had a good goal-scoring opportunity in the first half when Elijah Seymour played a cross into the box for Michael Martin-Cruz, but the point-blank shot was saved by Grenada goalkeeper Jeremy Richardson. Grenada had opportunities on a few set plays that turned into balls headed over the goal.

Modoo finally broke the deadlock by streaking into the penalty area and unleashing a right-footed shot off a cross. That shot narrowly cleared a lunging defender and nestled into the back of the goal.

“Both teams played very well. On the defensive end, we had a little bit of ups and downs,” said Modoo after the game. “The goal means a lot to us. We knew we had to come and deliver.”

Modeste, who played at the senior level for Grenada and played professionally in Jamaica, said his team was forced from an early whistle to meet Cayman’s physical style of play. Modeste said he believed that Cayman had more possession of the ball but Grenada had the lion’s share of quality chances.

Cameron Gray attempts a slide tackle on Grenada captain Saydrel Lewis.

“We overpassed a little too much,” he said, “And kudos to their defender for intercepting the ball.”

Cayman captain Joshewa Frederick-Charlery said that Cayman has worked hard in preparation over the last few months and that he was proud of the effort his teammates gave on Wednesday night.

“We had a lot of chances. We kept possession better than our opponents. We just failed to capitalise,” he said. “Grenada is a lot bigger than us, but I felt my boys fought very well tonight.”

Cayman’s game against Haiti is now a must-win, and Pugh said he thought his players would rebound from the disappointing result and find a way to lay it all on the line Sunday.

“I thought we played really well. I thought our effort was outstanding,” he said of Cayman’s performance in a losing effort against Grenada. “It’s a harsh lesson. If you don’t take your chances, unfortunately you always give yourselves an uphill battle.”

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