The Cayman Islands Under 20 Men’s National Football Team lost to Curacao 2-4 in their final Group F game on Saturday, November 11 at the CONCACAF Men’s Under 20 Championships at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
A win would have cemented a second place finish for the Cayman Islands tied on points with Guatemala in Group F although the Central Americans boasted a superior goal difference.
Smarting from their thrilling 2-2 draw with Guatemala on Thursday evening, the local boys’ confidence was quickly shattered in the 13th minute as Curacao took the lead.
The Cayman Islands equalized in the 26th minute through Kareem Foster and went ahead in the 34th minute as Alexander Clarke-Ramirez scored his first tournament goal.
As so often 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 and the warm weather affecting the pace of the game, play swung from end to end as chances were spurned by both teams.
In the 71st minute disaster struck for the Cayman Islands as their talismanic captain D’Andre Rowe picked up an injury, which ushered in an unscheduled substitution.
Capitalising on this unfortunate situation, Curacao scored in the 73rd and 79th minutes to record their second win of the tournament and third place in the group behind El Salvador, Guatemala and ahead of the Cayman Islands and Guyana.
The Cayman Islands finished the tournament with one win, one draw and two losses against quality opposition. Clearly, the local boys’ best performance was against Guatemala in that famous 2-2 draw.
Overall, the team did the Cayman Islands proud and, as in any sport, if circumstances were different and chances taken, results may have been more positive.
The single 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 stronger more established countries in CONCACAF.
The future looks very bright for youth football as CIFA looks forward to competing in:
- Mens’ Olympic Qualifiers in April 2019,
- 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.
Chairperson, CIFA Youth Committee