By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
With successive losses to Bermuda, Bonaire and the Bahamas, the BVI Football team on Monday, played Guyana to a 1-1 draw in the Concacaf U17 Boys Tournament in Bradenton, Florida, Johnny Jay Rowe scored both goals. They wrapped up play on Wednesday against St. Martin seeking their first victory.
The BVI opened the tournament with a 4-0 loss to Bermuda. Coach Jermaine Abrams told Island Sun Sports they got a good start but didn’t keep it and they lost their shape and formation at times.
“We got down early with a penalty, then we made some critical mistakes and once we made that mistake, they made us pay. They capitalized and we were two goals down, before the first half even ended,” Abrams said. “By the 44th or 45th minute, my right back got a red card and we went into the half down 3-nil. In the second half, we changed formation going into a 4-4-1, but then we were a man down and a couple players pulled up with cramps. We got a little discipline and tried to hold the bleeding off. In this game today, we showed some character and that’s what I’m most proud of the guys for.”
In their next game two days later, they fell to Bonaire, 2-1 with Johnny Jay Rowe netting the goal. Abrams said they were more disciplined after realizing they weren’t in the opener in the formation and their sets. He said that one thing they realized was some of their passes were not connecting and they were getting intercepted, something they spoke about.
“The first goal came from the same thing we spoke about because our pass didn’t connect and their center forward had a clear path to the goalkeeper so nothing we could have done about that.” He explained. “We made some switches, found a weakness in their right back, pressured that side and got an easy goal from it. They came after us again, we thought we had them on the backfoot but a crucial mistake with a ball slipping under our center back. In the second half, we tried working, kept our shape, stayed disciplined but that second goal for us wasn’t coming at all. Mistakes did us in today.”
On Saturday, they followed up with a 1-0 loss to The Bahamas. Abrams said they worked on some things they picked up from the Bonaire game, got a day of training in to work on them and got things together.
“I would say this loss is on me, the Coach,” Abrams said. “We have to get the guys prepared to finish. We’re getting opportunities. The defensive group is working. The midfield group is working, but that finish is just eluding us. We’re not getting it. That’s on the coach. You have to prepare them to finish. Prepare them health wise so that they can play the test of time, play the minutes, that’s what did us in today.”
Rowe scored his second goal of the tournament against Guyana on Monday in a 1-1 draw. Abrams said it was a must win game, knowing the position they were in and came with a game play. He said they knew Guyana was strong in the midfield with a fairly good attacking midfielder and the wingers are strong.
“But they play from inside out and we had to counteract that by throwing different bodies at the midfielder so that he didn’t get comfortable and on the defensive end, make him as uncomfortable as possible,” Abrams explained. “We got the first goal scoring opportunities and went into the half 1-0. Once they came out, we knew they’d come with a high press. We tried to get out of it, but then there goes again, our little monkey on our back, mistakes and that caused us a goal. They did nothing spectacular, but they kept fighting us until the last whistle.”
Abrams said he’s proud of the team because improvements can be seen across all the games they’ve played.
“The understanding is coming. The composure is coming, we’re building through the tournament but I think we’re a little too late building to the tournament because we’re already in the tournament,” he said.
Abrams said he’s also proud of the team’s execution, their finishing as Guyana was really bringing the heat from the 80th minute. He said defense is the team’s strength so they had to remain disciplined.