Players looking for home boost vs St Lucia

Brian Martin passes the ball forward, as Wesley Robinson looks on during a recent training session.

The Cayman Islands will be looking for its first win in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying when it hosts St Lucia at Truman Bodden Sports Complex on Saturday, 17 November and members of the squad have said they hope to feed off the energy of the home crowd for a positive result.

 It’s been a tough start for the team from the 345, opening with a 4-0 loss to Jamaica in September and losing 3-0 to Dominican Republic in October. However, St Lucia is no easy opponent after beating Antigua and Barbuda 3-0 to open their campaign before falling 2-1 to Haiti last month.

After playing on the road for the first two games, Cayman’s players are eager for a better showing at home. It’s their first international game on home soil since a 1-1 draw against Belize in World Cup qualifying in 2015. An early goal by Mark Ebanks whipped the crowd into a frenzy but the visitors equalised and advanced after another draw, this time scoreless, in Belize.

Matthew Suberan is expected to feature in the midfield.

“It means everything,” said defender Tyler Lee about suiting up for the national team at home.

“From the very first meeting when we heard that we were playing away for the first two games then back at home for the third, everyone was excited because we have our friends, our families and our whole country behind us. It’s an honour to put on the jersey with the crest and go out there and represent for the Cayman Islands,” said Lee, who is poised to make his first home appearance after starting the previous two outings.

Captain Ramon Sealy is one of the few holdovers from the team that played in 2015. He told that it is always an honour to represent the country, especially on home turf.

Sealy, who starred in goal against the Dominican Republic, said the side has been analysing what it needs to do to have an improved showing against St Lucia.

“What we need to do is possess the ball a bit more. I felt that as we have gone on, we have done that better from the Jamaica to the DR game. It’s about just continuing that progression and coming out here and showing what we can do in front of our home fans. Hopefully, we could use the energy out of the home crowd to put in a good performance,” he said.

Karl Solomon made his debut against the Dominican Republic.

Midfielder Colby Seymour said he was excited about the opportunity to play at home after a pair of away games. “A lot more pressure at home than on the road. We have the 12th man here, so that should motivate us with our friends and family in the stands. So, it’s only right that we come out and give our best on the field to give them the result that they deserve,” he said.

With the CIFA Premier League now underway, which was not the case when Cayman played its first two CONCACAF Nations League qualifiers, Seymour believes that has helped the players better prepare for the match-up against St Lucia.

“A lot of us are back in the league and got some games under our belt, so I’m confident that we are ready to go out there and get a good result,” he said.

St Lucia has shown more ability to get the ball to goal so far in qualifying, with four goals in two games and a combined 24 shots, 10 of which were on target. The Cayman Islands has 11 shots, with six of them on target through their two games. However, they will need to do a better job of getting the ball to striker Mark Ebanks, who has lacked opportunities to pressure opposing goalkeepers.

Brandon Ebanks is among the new additions to the squad.

Cayman is expected to make a handful of changes from the squad that travelled to the Dominican Republic, with Theron Wood, Tevin Yen, and Brandon Ebanks likely to suit up.

Kick-off is at 8pm with gates opening two hours before. Admission: $10 adults, $5 children. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or at Funky Tangs, Reflections, Singh’s Roti Shop, Winners Circle, and PartyVille.

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