Cheston Dangleben on the attack for Dominica. Photo: digicelfootball.com
ST JOHN’S, Antigua — Cuba opened Group G of the Digicel Caribbean Cup with a strong statement of intent by easily dismissing the challenge of Dominica in front of a modest opening crowd in an early afternoon kick off on Wednesday in Antigua.
Cuba started brightly and were ahead after only 8 minutes when the versatile dynamo Alain Ofarril slipped in Armando Isidoro, whose shot from the right hand side slipped past Oscar and planted itself into the left side of the net.
With Cuba keeping the ball and dominating midfield, Dominica had yet to come out of their half of the field and it looked only a matter of time until Cuba added to their tally.
But against the run of play and to shock the rising crowd in the famous ARG, Dominica equalized in their first attack on 15 minutes. After Molina had cleared from under his crossbar under pressure from Langlais, the resultant corner floated in by Christopher allowed Benjamin to rise unchallenged and shock the Cubans by drawing the sides level.
Not to be outdone by the aerial battle it was a corner that restored the lead for Cuba, when Ofarril again was the provider with a lovely delivery from a right hand side corner for Cervantes to power a back post header home from 4 yards.
Cuba were determined not to allow another opportunity for Dominica to get back into this contest and on 27 minutes made it 3-1 with a fantastic individual goal by Valencia. Collecting the ball on the left hand side, he cut inside and from 18 yards whipped his shot inside the post, reminiscent of the Fernando Torres gem against Chelsea at the weekend in the English Premier League.
The Cubans made it 4-1 eight minutes later when Campanioni slotted the ball under the advancing Oscar, after a lovely through ball from Serrano left centre backs Bernard and Austrie flat footed and rooted to the ground.
Dominica started the second half a lot more defensively minded and seemed set not to concede any more goals. With so little possession being held by Dominica it seemed all they might hope for was to keep the score down. With all three subs being made very early in the second half, the tactics were clearly to defend at all costs and to ensure the score
With Isidoro and Valencia hitting the woodwork, Cuba could not manage a way around the Dominican goalkeeper, to the dismay of the growing crowd in the ARG who were anxious for goals.
On 80 minutes the tactics nearly paid off when Wayne George was through and forced Cuban keeper Guivert to rely on his luck as the ball ricocheted off his legs and fortunately into his arms when it seemed that Dominica may have drawn another goal back.
With 3 minutes left on the clock Benjamin bagged his and Dominica’s second of the game when he slotted home what was a carbon copy of Cuba’s first goal. While the Dominicans did little in the way of celebration, it was a matter of pride that while they ended the game losing 4-2 they at least got the better of their opponents in the second 45 minutes from a scoring perspective.
Cuba now look forward to playing Suriname on Friday while Dominica will take on hosts Antigua in the later afternoon kick off
Cuba: 12. Vismel Guivert 3 Yenier Molina 16 Reysnader Cervantes 6 Yoel Valencia 8 Jaine Valencia 14 Alianni Montoya 2 Carlos Francisco Serrano 15 Armando Isidoro ( Leonel Duarte Pla 72 mins)10 Roberto Balmaseda 9 Alain Ofarril 7 Marcel Campanioni
Coach: Raul Triana
Dominica: 30 Owen Oscar 6 Colin Bernard (Kurtney McKenzie 55 mins) 2 Prince Austrie 8 Jerome Thomas 17 Carlvin Christopher 3 Elmond Derrick 19 Rasheed Bertrand (Wayne George 31 mins)16 Chad Bertrand 14 Glenworth Elizee (18. Cheston Dangleben 46 mins) 9 Lester Langlais 11 Kurlson Benjamin
Referee: Stanley Lancaster (Guyana)
Assistant Referee 1: Venton Mars (Guyana)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Inniss (Guyana)
Match Commissioner : Victor Daniels (Grenada)