The Cayman Islands during training at the Dr. Franklin Essed Stadion in Suriname. Photo: CIFA

Cayman’s hopes of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 are all but over, after Canada registered one goal shy of a dozen in a World Cup qualifying encounter on Monday at the IMG Academy in Florida.

“The intensity of the game is something that we had never experienced before.” – Alfredo Whittaker

This is the first time the two teams have played against each other in a World Cup competition. Canada is currently 73rd in the world according to the FIFA rankings, 120 places ahead of the Cayman Islands. The local squad, made up entirely of amateurs including a number of high school students, quickly realised they were outmatched by the Canadian professionals on the day.

“Now that our young team is exposed to the realities of football that is being played in Europe, against Champions League players, players that have 150 games in the Premier League, and not too many players in this world can say that they have that opportunity,” Cayman Islands Football Association president Alfredo Whittaker told the Cayman Compass.

Canada held 76% of possession during the match and attempted to score 44 times; 11 of those shots found their way past Cayman’s 21-year-old goalkeeper Albertini Holness, who says there is nothing to be ashamed of, considering the level of competition they were up against.

“That was the first game that I conceded double digits,” Holness told the Compass. “We don’t have to put our heads down because at the end of the day, we played against top professional players and it was a good experience.”

The Canadians closed the first half scoring six goals, coming from Frank Sturing in the sixth minute, Cyle Larin in the 14th and David Wotherspoon in the 25th. Bayern Munich’s left-back Alphonso Davies also scored a penalty in the 28th, followed by teammate Mark-Anthony Kaye in the 33rd and Alistair Johnston in the 43rd.

“The intensity of the game is something that we had never experienced before,” said Whittaker. “The accuracy and passing from the Canadian team, it’s definitely a building platform for us.”

Canada went on to score five more times in the second half, with goals coming from Davies and Kaye. Lucas Cavallini took the match ball after scoring a hat-trick to help his team move past Suriname in Group B on goal difference.

Cayman now sits at the bottom of Group B, waiting to play their next round of matches in June against Aruba (set for 2 June) and then Bermuda (scheduled for 8 June). Whittaker says, overall, he is pleased with the first round of games.

“Personally, I am very happy with it,” he said. “I think it was an amazing experience for the players.”

The Cayman National team returned home on 31 March, where they will quarantine for 10 or 14 days, depending on their vaccination status.

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