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Surviving the Group of Death


Vincy Heat’s qualification for the second round of the Digicel Caribbean Cup signals a maturity of our football. Placed into a group with two teams, who have made it the World Cup before and St Lucia a formidable contender completing the quartet, it was dubbed as the Group of Death.

There was the belief that St Vincent and the Grenadines would have been one of the team’s for early elimination. Who would have believed that the former Digicel Cup holder Jamaica could have been a first round casualty? {{more}}

The projection was that Vincy Heat and St. Lucia would have fallen. Vincy Heat has a history of slow starts. Last time the Digicel Cup was on, Vincy Heat faced the prospect of being booted out when their last match approached. They were held to draws by British Virgin Islands, one apiece, and saw Bermuda come from two goals adrift to record a three all tie.

Fans recall that the stage was set nicely for the Vincentians when the BVI squad shocked Bermuda, delicately placed to progress after a win over Cayman Islands and the draw with Vincy Heat.

Vincy Heat then completed a routing of Cayman Islands and topped the group and left the other spot for BVI.

It is a pity that Vincy Heat could not capitalise on their momentum, and fell prey to the Soca Warriors.

Normally, one would have expected the Vincentians to buckle having lost to Haiti.

But the Reggae Boyz were mesmerised.

Even with our lack of facilities and apparent nonchalant approach to the matches, the team succeeded. And that happened by virtue of self-belief.

The Jamaicans reduced the lead and placed themselves within striking distance of a draw.

But the Vincentians were fired up and held their nerves. Home support would not be an intimidation.

With that fillip under their wings, Vincy Heat was not about to surrender. And the manner in which they disposed of their St Lucian neighbours was testimony of a squad that knew the objective of the exercise.

Not only was a massive win necessary, but tactically, it was a case of not leaving anything to chance. The Haitians could have accommodated Jamaica and arrange for them both to qualify.

Having won the head to head encounter, goal difference and numbers were significant, a point not lost on the Vincentians when they dealt with St Lucia.

Our first task has been accomplished.

It is down to Barbados, Bermuda, and Bahamas in the second round carded for Barbados in November 19 to 23. Two teams go through to the finals in Trinidad and Tobago January 31 to February 11.

We would not be resting on our laurels. Having seen the Soca Warriors on the world stage and reminiscing how close the encounters were with that squad, we could entertain thoughts that Trinidad and Tobago got for their World Cup appearance could have been ours.

Being smaller than T&T, you could imagine what the world would have been saying.

All that is water under the bridge.

We have overcome the psychological barrier that we were no match for certain teams.

The defining moment still remains that one nil “draw” with Mexico. Having played with ten men for most of the match and seeing the Central American giants panting for breath, a new air of confidence dawned on us. The only thing was that Soca Warriors mustered enough aplomb to thwart our advances.

It would never be that way again, and Jamaica felt the wrath of our vengeance.

There is a lot to be done. The actors must complete the script and provide the logistical support for the squad so as to ensure that the groundwork is in place for our advance. This is the nurturing stage for our 2010 World Cup preparations in South Africa. We cannot be left out of the big times. The talent and skill have been obvious. It is a matter of condensing everything into an acceptable melting pot as a formula for our stability.