By Flynn Bush
Heading into last weekend, the Cayman Islands were sitting atop their group in Nations League C and were in control of their own destiny. The way forward was clear; win the remaining two games and earn promotion to League B.
The first of those two games came on Saturday night here at home, and it was to be against the USVI, a team that Cayman had beaten before in the first round of matches. To add to the drama, a couple of hours prior to the game, the skies opened up and a downpour of rain started falling on the pitch at the Truman Bodden Stadium. Even into the game, the deluge continued, and it most certainly affected play on both sides. In spite of this, though, both teams created numerous goal-scoring chances and were working hard to put themselves clearly in control of the match.
In the 17th minute, a corner, a miskick and a 22 yard shot led to Cayman taking the lead. It was a beautiful shot by Akeem Hyde that broke the deadlock. After that, both sides continued to battle well. Ultimately, though, when the final whistle was blown Cayman had secured the win and had placed themselves in the perfect position to win the group. All that remained in their way was Barbados; a team that they had already beaten in a tense match here in September.
Tuesday night, in Barbados, the game started quickly. Both Barbados and Cayman came out swinging like two old heavyweights wanting to land a knockout punch. The edge in possession time was in Barbados’s favor and would ultimately remain so for the entire game. However, in the early going, Cayman was able to get more deep penetrating attacks. Around about the 25th minute of the first half, that second stat started to slide to the side. Barbados launched a series of attacks, relentless in nature. Eventually, in the 34th minute, the home team was rewarded for their efforts as a ball found the back of the Cayman net. Our team was down 1-o, in a hostile, foreign environment. It seemed to us fans that fight just became an uphill battle.
For the Cayman players, this goal only signaled the need to fight harder. The minutes ticked off the clock, but that is what they continued to do; fight. Ultimately, in the waning minutes of the second half, Barbados again scored (in the 86th minute). A quick score, four minutes later meant that Cayman’s goals of winning the group were finished. The game ended and Barbados players celebrated with their fans.
As the Cayman Islands National team returns to the island, most assuredly they will do so with some amount regret or disappointment. However, throughout the entire Nations League campaign, these players represented our country with poise and grace. They fought hard and achieved some things and have grown from the experience. We as a nation now have a duty to fulfill. We must come together and support our team, and be sure to express we are most proud of them. Cayman will fight again another day.