BVI secures 2nd draw against Cayman in CONCACAF Nations League

GEORGETOWN, CAYMAN ISLANDS. JUNE 6th: Teamphoto of British Virgin Islands during the match between Cayman Islands and British Virgin Islands as part of the 2022 Concacaf Nations League held at the Truman Bodden stadium in Georgetown, Cayman Islands. (PHOTO BY CESAR D PAULI/CONCACAF/STRAFFON IMAGES/MANDATORY CREDIT/EDITORIAL USER/NOT FOR SALE/NOT ARCHIVE)

A tremendous second half performance saw the BVI Men’s National Football team battle back from a goal down to secure another 1-1 draw against Cayman Islands in the CONCACAF Nations League Group C action on Monday in George Town, Cayman.

There was little to separate the teams at the Truman Bodden Stadium, with the same end result meaning both teams have a pair of points ahead of clashes with Puerto Rico.

Early chances were squandered by both teams as Jamie Wilson saw his curling free kick safely smothered by the Cayman’s keeper, Albertini Hollness. Then, the home side had an excellent chance in the 10th minute, with Corey Smith sending a left-footed ball to the back post that was headed on goal by Jabari Campbell. Daniel Gilford made a point blank save, deflecting the ball onto the post and Jerry Wiltshire was on hand to complete the clearance.

The hosts went ahead in the 23rd minute from the penalty spot, when Trey Ebanks was pulled down in the box by Christian Javier, and Jonah Ebanks stepped up to convert to the left of Gilford.

Whatever words BVI Coach, Chris Kiwomya used at halftime showed immediate effect though as just seconds after the second half resumed, Wilson scored the equaliser. Luka Chalwell found Tyler Forbes with a slide rule pass into space ahead of the forward and he avoided the lunging tackle of Josua Frederick to put in a cross to the far post. Chalwell had continued his run and rose to nod the ball back across goal where Wilson was waiting, and although the keeper blocked his initial header, he reacted quickest to fire home the loose ball.

“The tactical changes in the first half worked and so did the plan to make more passes in the second half,” said Kiwomya. “We changed things a bit at the break, scored the goal and could have won the game. However, it’s small strides and the players are beginning to understand more and more about what is expected. We were forced to make changes, bringing on the likes of Quelani (Nickie) and Jake (Forbes), but kept our shape which was pleasing.”

“It always means so much more to me when I score for the BVI,” beamed Wilson. “I love representing the nation and all the people in it. I hope that they are proud of the performance that the boys put in. We created better opportunities to score, and our defensive set up has been highly effective. We can be a very stubborn team to break down; we have some big characters in the team and the future on the international stage is moving in the right direction in my opinion… onto Puerto Rico!”

“What character!” exclaimed FA President, Mr. Andy Bickerton. “We had to come back from goal down and gave debuts to two more youngsters in Quelahni Nickie and Jake Forbes. Onwards and upwards we go!”

Cayman Islands’ Joshewa Frederick Charlery had a chance for a winner just five minutes from the final whistle, coming forward and getting his head on a free kick, but it went wide and the teams shared a point.

“We got off to a good start and stuck to the game plan,” said Technical Director, Mr. Dan Neville. “An individual error gifted them a goal early, but we stuck in their and got our reward in the second half. We had chances to win the game in the second period and in the end showed great resolve to hold on and have to be pleased with a point on the road.”

Both teams now turn their attention to group rival Puerto Rico, with Cayman Islands hosting El Huracan Azul on June 9 and the British Virgin Islands traveling to Puerto Rico for a June 12 contest.

BVI Men’s National Football team ready for first home game since 2016, against the Cayman Islands on Friday at the A.O. Shirley Ground in the CONCACAF Nations’ League

The hosts will be hoping that their second campaign yields more positive results than the first, which saw them finish bottom of the group despite some promising moments.

The Caymans, on the other hand, are eyeing promotion after narrowly missing out on League B last time around when they finished tied for first in their group but lost out to Barbados on goal differential.

Veteran Mark Ebanks has been banging them in for the Cayman Islands for over a decade and remains one of the top scoring threats on the team. He scored the goal in the Cayman Islands’ 1-1 draw with Bermuda during 2022 World Cup qualifying last year.

For the British Virgin Islands, most eyes will be on Tyler Forbes. Forbes impressed during the previous Nations’ League as a teenager, scoring three times and emerging as a young leader in the squad.

The two sides last met at the senior level during the first round of the 2005 Caribbean Cup, when the Cayman Islands edged a 1-0 victory.

Effectively the game sees the start of a new four-year cycle for the squad with many graduates of the BVI Football Association Youth Programs cementing their places and some making their debuts.

“It is a deliberate move and a policy of the BVIFA to introduce the youths to senior football,” said BVIFA president, Mr. Andy Bickerton. “The strategy has been to get our most promising youths overseas to not only play but gain education through study and the number of young players breaking through shows the idea has worked.”

Also, new Head Coach, Chris Kiwomya, will be in the dugout for his first competitive game since taking over the reins. “We have held camps during the buildup, and I am happy and confident with the composition of the squad. We are here to compete, play to our strengths, and how to win the game,” said Coach Kiwomya.

Kiwomya has been watching the younger players as well as the senior players and talking to all the local coaches to fully understand who can achieve what at this level.

“We have had to be careful with the players and the intensity of training, but we are taking each day at a time especially with games coming in a short time frame and assessing everyone before narrowing down to the final squad,” said Coach Kiwomya. “We must not get too far ahead of ourselves, it is a fresh start and there will be ups and downs, the players have to get the fans excited by their performance and over the next 18 months or so we can move forward, make progress and be a real force.”

After Friday, the squad heads off to the Cayman Islands for the return fixture on Monday, June 6 followed by a match against Puerto Rico on June 12.

Troy Caesar is also back as Captain having been unavailable for the more recent World Cup qualifiers. “We are here to compete, and it is great to see the camaraderie that flows throughout the players,” said Caesar. “Once we all listen and understand what the Coach wants us to do, then we will come out with a victory.”

Ikyjah Williams has already played at senior level, having starred for the U20’s and is now joined by many of his teammates from the tournament held in the Dominican Republic. “I’m excited for the game, I know we will compete, impress the Coach, and play to win!” said Williams.

Goalkeeper, Daniel Gilford has also been promoted to first choice between the sticks having been in and around the senior squad without getting a game. “Becoming first choice, I won’t let anyone down and have been working hard, like everyone said we are here to compete,” said Gilford.

“The BVIFA is really excited by being able to play home games again,” said Bickerton. “We are still working on the stadium at East End and once that is done there will be more games at home. For now, we are working with the Recreation Trust to host games, and are very thankful for their support, but playing home games is really important so the public can see the progress we are making.”

The game against Cayman Islands kicks off at 4pm on Friday 3rd June at the A.O. Shirley Ground. Adult tickets are just $10 and Children U12 just $5.

The full squad includes Mekhi Walters, Gilford, Ceasar, Jerry Wiltshire, Phil Nelson, Denvin Jones, Miguel Marshall, Justin Smith, Christian Javier, Giovanni Grant, Williams, Makimbo Demming, Quelani Nickie, T’Sharne Gallimore, Jamie Wilson, Liam Blok, Carlos Septus, Tyler Forbes, Luka Chalwell, Jake Forbes, Luca Reich, Levon Williams, Alejandro Santos, Tai Thomas, Gethin Jones.

Men’s National Football team executes a game of guts and pride in CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier

By BVI Football Association

BVI Men’s National Football Team in CONCACAF Qaulifier, Martinique.

The BVI Men’s National Football team had a week to remember in Martinique when they came up against two tough opponents who have historically given them a hard time in the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifier for the Gold Cup.

The BVI team first came up against Suriname Saturday on October 13 and then three days later had to play against a very experienced Martinique team. The Suriname game which started around 4.00pm was played at the Andre Kampervieen stadium while Martinique chose to play their game at their pride and joy, their national football stadium – the Stade Municipal Pierre Aliker multipurpose stadium in Fort-de-France, Martinique.

All scheduled home games for the CONCACAF qualifiers could not be played in the BVI due to the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Irma to the football stadium in Greenland.

The Suriname game proved to be a hard one with the talented Stefano Rijssel finding the back of the net in the 23rd minute of play. The BVI men looked good but conceded another goal score by Brian Eshot 2 minutes before the half.

The BVI played good football in the second half until a left boot shot by Donnegy Fer wrong footed the goalkeeper to make the score 3-0. It was the talented Stefano Rijssel who scored in the 75th minute to make the score 4-0 and then a late goal by Ivenzo Comvalius saw the game end 5-0 in favour of Suriname.

Coach Dan Neville knowing his team had another tough encounter in three days from a better Martinique team did not allow the team to focus on the defeat but rather concentrated on the upcoming game and on making adjustments.

Well after 45 minutes of play, the strategy seemed to have worked as the BVI went into the locker room with a nil-nil score line and disappointed French supporters. Credit for the first half was mainly attributed to Ben Chapman who executed three amazing saves in the first half.

The BVI got out done in the second half by a set play which saw Kevin Parsemain put a free kick over the BVI wall and into the top right corner of the net. The rest of the game saw the BVI team play excellent football and with 80 minutes played the BVI stood at 0-1 down, while a restless Martinique crowd were shouting for goals at their national stadium. The chain was broken in the 83rd minute by Mickae Biron, followed by two back to back goals in extra time by Parsemain and Biron, which could only go down to lack of experience by this young BVI team who seemingly relaxed a little too soon before the final whistle.

Coach Dan Neville praised his team for a game of guts and pride, which were it not for the few lapses in concentration late in the game, could easily have ended at a very respectable 0-1.

Coach Dan has also named an 18-man squad in preparation for their upcoming game to include Ben Chapman, Charles Medway, Josh Bertie, Troy Ceasar, James Drury, Tosh Gallimore, Jamie Wilson, Bailey Rowe, Carlos Septus, Leo Forte, Phillip Jules, Phil Nelson, Trevor Peters, Chris Pease, Christian Zavier, Robbie Green, Jordan Johnson and Tyler Forbes.

The BVI team now move onto Anguilla on Friday 16th November where they will play a home game in the CONCACAF Nations League against Bonaire. Their final qualifier game will be against Turks & Caicus next year March 2019.

BVI to participate in CONCACAF Nations League

By BVI Football Association

BVI Football Association President, Mr. Andy Bickerton, Mrs. Julianna Luke (BVIFA General Secretary) and Mr. Avanel Morton (BVIFA Vice President). Photo: BVIFA

The BVI Football Association President, Mr. Andy Bickerton has expressed optimism and confidence following the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League Draw held in Miami, Florida.

The Senior Men’s team will be facing Martinique, Suriname, Bonaire and the Turks and Caicos in the Nations League qualifying rounds, with the first fixture, against Martinique, scheduled for September 18th, 2018.

Further games will follow on October 18th (Suriname) and then an enticing home game against Bonaire on November 18th, before the final game, also at home, features the Turks and Caicos.

“It’s a good draw for us as we are confident we can be competitive in each game, especially the two home games, given we can use the A.O. Shirley Ground,” commented Bickerton.

The CONCACAF Nations League begins in September with a one-off qualifying phase, while the group phase, consisting of three tiered leagues, will kick off in 2019.

The top league will end with a Final to crown the Nations League champion, and the competition will also serve to unify the qualifying path for the region’s national teams to the newly expanded Gold Cup.

League A will contain four groups of three teams. The winners of each League A group will qualify to the CONCACAF Nations League Final Championship, which will determine the champion of the new competition. The teams at the bottom of each League A group will be relegated to League B for the next edition of the tournament.

League B will contain four groups of four teams. The winner of each League B group will be promoted to League A, and the bottom team of each League B group will be relegated to League C for the next edition.

League C will consist of the remaining MAs divided into four groups. The winner of each League C group will be promoted to League B.

The first edition of the CONCACAF Nations League will begin with a one-off CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying phase, which will determine which teams are assigned to each league.

By virtue of having qualified for the Hexagonal Round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Russia 2018, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, the United States and Trinidad & Tobago have earned the right to be seeded directly into League A and therefore will not participate in Nations League qualifyiers.