Cayman’s U23 national football team came up short in their bid to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, after Haiti scored a tying goal in the final minutes of their Sunday, 27 July match, for a 2-2 result. After losing 1-0 to Grenada Wednesday in their first CONCACAF Olympic qualifiers at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex, Cayman needed to beat Haiti by two goals to top their group of three and move on to the next qualifying round.

However, during stoppage time at the end of the match, Haiti scored its second goal, as Cayman was forced to change tactic in an attempt to increase their lead to the all-important two goals. The more-aggressive formation left Cayman more susceptible to a counterattack, coach Ben Pugh told CNS, and Haiti took advantage of that position to notch the late equaliser and finish top of the group, after its 2-0 win against Grenada on Friday.

In the first half, Cayman opened the scoring in the ninth minute with a goal by Leighton Thomas, Jr, with Haiti answering in the 25th minute. In the second half, Cayman once again struck first with a 61st minute goal by Elijah Seymour. Once Cayman was up by one, “we knew we had to win by two clear goals which meant, unfortunately, we had to push forward a little bit more and we got caught in the counterattack, and it finishes 2-2,” Pugh said.

He added they were disappointed with the result, “because again (as with Grenada) it was a game we felt that we probably deserved more out of…But I’m really pleased with how we played against a really strong Haitian team.

“Even though we knew it was going to be a really tough game, I think we matched them in terms of our commitment and our desire. For long periods of the game, I thought we outworked them.”

In talking to the team in the locker room after the match, Pugh said, “We focused on the fact that we played so well, and there were lots of positives with that. We also spoke about that though it hurts now and it’s disappointing, this is a long-term plan that we have, so it’s not just about these three games, it’s about the future of the senior team which a lot of the players will filter into. Continue reading

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