9th September 2012
Caribbean Cup First Qualifying Round
Stade Pierre Aliker, Fort-de-France, Martinique. Att. 120
British Virgin Islands 0-7 Montserrat
Well I don’t know what to say! Not only have Montserrat avoided defeat for the first time since joining FIFA in 1996, they’ve also got a first win and done it in fine style. A 7-0 victory is simply astounding.
An even first 30 minutes belied two teams that, for all their positive talk, were short on confidence and lacked the belief to just go for it. And then, as the first half wore on, the chance to grasp the initiative was presented to Montserrat. Marlon Campbell, one of the new breed of UK-based players, playing his club football with Bethnal Green United, got his international goal scoring record off the mark with two strikes late in the first half to put Montserrat two goals to the good. Minutes later, they were in dreamland when their Australian-based midfielder, Darryl Roach, made it three.
Both scorers exemplified the means by which Montserrat’s improvement had come about. Both represented the far flung descendants of Montserrat immigrants and both had learned their football in the more stringent environs of minor amateur leagues. While Campbell played in the Essex Senior League for Bethnal Green, Roach had spread his wings a little further and had pitched up in the Victoria State League playing for Port Melbourne Sharks. Between them they had set Montserrat on the path to paradise.
In the second half, Montserrat stuck the knife into their overwhelmed opponents as four more goals followed. They almost unbelievably racked up a seven-goal victory of their own for their first win since gaining FIFA recognition.
Montserrat’s second half scorers were also English-born descendants of immigrants, hardened in England’s amateur leagues. Ellis Remy, scorer of a second half brace, boasts a list of clubs in his career that reads like a who’s who of South East England’s lower leagues.
So nineteen defeats and thirteen years after becoming FIFA members – and seventeen years since their last “unofficial” victory – Montserrat have finally won a match. They had a little assistance on the way. British Virgin Islands played the last half hour a man down, and the seventh goal was courtesy of a Virgin Islands’ own goal, but this was no fortunate backs-to-the-wall smash and grab raid. This was a team ranked as worst in the world handing out the kind of beating that they were more commonly used to receiving.
I can only hope that the Montserrat team went on an almighty bender after this as they certainly earned it.
In the other match, Suriname fought from 2-0 down to grab a late equaliser and draw 2-2 with Martinique, a result which sends both teams through to the next round of qualification. Montserrat finish a hugely creditable third, and more importantly will be saying farewell to Worst in the World status in the next FIFA rankings.
|1.||Martinique||Pl. 3||Pts. 7 GD +21|
|2.||Suriname||3||7 GD +10|
|4.||British Virgin Islands||3||0|