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.

BVI bows out of World Cup 2018 qualifiers

By BVIFA

BVI in possession of the ball in first round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers vs Dominica but bows out 2-3. Photo: BVIFA

BVI in possession of the ball in first round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers vs Dominica but bows out 2-3. Photo: BVIFA

Needing to win by two clear goals after losing the “home” leg to Dominica, 3-2, the BVI were held goalless in the away leg at Windsor Park, Roseau, of the first round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers and bowed out of the competition on Sunday evening.

The BVI started brightly and took full advantage of the space offered by the Dominica side that preferred to sit back and wait out the opening exchanges.

With a revamped line including switching James Shearman to right back and inserting Trevor Peters out wide on the right, the hosts were nearly made to pay for their hesitancy, firstly by Matthew Bell and then Karl Espley, who both saw half chances go begging.

Ever dangerous on the break, Dominica sounded alarm bells, with Julian Wade going close and Daniel Barker producing a finger tip save of the match to keep BVI hopes alive.

Early in the second half, with the game still in the balance, Peters just failed to get a touch ahead of the last defender, with the goal beckoning. Andy Davis also saw a shot scream just wide and Epsley also saw his effort go wide.

However, with the hosts now introducing Randolph Peltier, much to the crowds delight, the BVI were pushed back and thankful for more fine saves from Barker including a couple of one on ones with Peltier, a diving block to deny Wade and also another fine save from Sidney Lockhart.

On the night, a stalemate was a fair result and represented a tremendous performance from the BVI team. Coach Avondale Williams, whilst regretting the defensive errors that cost his team dear in the first leg, noted that he was proud of his team.

“It was very difficult to break down their defense but we battled hard, created a few good chances, but were unable to convert them,” said Williams. “Daniel Barker was very impressive and kept us in the game, especially as we pushed forward in the latter stages of the game. To go out of the competition is a bitter pill to swallow, but with the performance I believe we are on the right track to only get better and better as a team.”

Dominica’s Coach, Shane Marshall commented that his team grew into the game especially in the second half. “We started slowly, but in the second half began to knock the ball around, looked comfortable and had many shots on goal,” said Marshall. “Before we play Canada, we have to go back to the drawing board and work on our first touches, our crosses and our finishing.”