Sporting glory days don’t include Montserrat too often, but earlier this year our record breaking long serving worst in the world nation had the honour of playing in the very first match of the qualifying competition for the 2014 World Cup, against the relative super power of Belize.
Unfortunately for our volcanic island friends they couldn’t actually host the match themselves since Montserrat is without a stadium of suitable quality and so both teams had to troop on down to Port of Spain, Trinidad to a near empty Ato Boldon Stadium on June 15th for this first leg match in the CONCACAF qualifying first round.
This is a whole two rounds before the might of Mexico and the USA enter the competition, and basically consists of the real minnows of CONCACAF football – a group we have particular interest in of course.
This also was Montserrat’s big chance to not only progress through to the group stage, but also to drag themselves off the bottom of the World Rankings and therefore end their long run as worst in the world.
A draw would be sufficient to grab some ranking points and move on up the table. This was also Montserrat’s first international match for almost a year, with a 2 year gap prior to that too, which explains the lengthy spell as our heroes here at the Worst in the World.
It was a high scoring encounter too, as both sides went for the win in what ended up as a rain soaked occasion. Both sides traded some opening chances before Belize’s Dean McCauley had the honour of scoring the first World Cup goal on the road to 2014.
Hodgson repeated the feat, on what was his international debut, near the end of the match to grab his second. Sadly for him, Montserrat and us, Belize had banged in no less than 4 others in the intervening period to win the match 5-2.
Montserrat coach Kenny Dyer was understandably disappointed with the scoreline, but remains optimistic for the second leg. “We put in a lot of effort in our preparation and it all fell apart in the second half in the space of ten minutes or so,” said Dyer. “That was the most disappointing thing for me because we did well in the first half. At half-time we thought there was a good chance we could get something from this game but it didn’t turn out that way. Now we’ve got to regroup and get ourselves ready for the next game. We can still hold our heads high and go to Belize and come away with a positive result.”
Extremely grainy highlights can be seen here…
Even then hope sprang eternal for our intrepid islanders as the Belize FA were temporarily suspended from FIFA causing the return match to be postponed. Would this mean a bye to the next round for Montserrat – although no ranking points?
In a word, no. Belize sorted themselves out and were reinstated with the second leg going ahead a month later on July 17th in another neutral venue, this time San Pedro Sula in Honduras.
Again Belize took the lead, but again Montserrat pulled it back thanks to Jay Lee Hodgson once more with only half an hour to go, taking his international record to a frankly superb 3 goals in 2 matches.
Four minutes later though, all thoughts of a dramatic draw were well and truly gone as Belize had banged in two more in that brief period, seemingly having been stung into action by Hodgson’s goal.
So a 3-1 defeat, meaning an 8-3 aggregate score and no escape from the world ranking basement for Montserrat. Second leg highlights are here…
Quite when they will next play a full international is anyone’s guess. Montserrat don’t seem to play any friendly matches unfortunately, which means the next scheduled tournament matches for them will likely be the 2012 Caribbean Cup, which of course also represent their best chance of finally breaking their duck.
But in the mean time, Montserrat had their moment in opening the 2014 World Cup tournament, and will remain one of our lovable rogues at the foot of world football’s ladder. Montserrat, we salute you.