Aruba, St Martin secure victories in League C

By Sports Desk September 12, 2023
Aruba and Cayman Islands in action on Monday. Aruba and Cayman Islands in action on Monday. Concacaf

Aruba and St Martin assumed pole position in their respective groups following victories over Cayman Islands and Bonaire respectively, in League C the 2023-24 Concacaf Nations League on Monday.

Cayman Islands vs. Aruba

The first match-up of the day saw Aruba come away with a late 2-1 win over the Cayman Islands in Group B at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex in George Town, Cayman Islands.

With the win, Aruba moved to the top the group with three points after one match, while Cayman Islands are third with one point.

Fans could not have asked for a more exciting start with two goals inside the first six minutes of play.

Striking first was Aruba inside the first 90 seconds, as a ball played in from the left wing met the stabbing foot of Rovien Ostiana for a 1-0 lead to the visitors.

The hosts answered right back in the sixth minute, as Christhofer Nunez got loose on the left edge of the area and from the slimmest of angles, fired in a shot that deflected off the leg of Aruba GK Matthew Lentink and into goal to make it 1-1.

Some heroic defending from the Cayman Islands in the 58th with a ball cleared off the goal-line kept the draw intact, but Aruba would land the decisive goal 21 minutes later in the 79th through Darryl Baly, who got low to steer home a header off a corner kick for the 2-1 Aruba victory.

Saint Martin vs. Bonaire

The second game of the day in League C was decided on some late fireworks, with Saint Martin rallying to edge Bonaire 2-1 in Group A action at the SKNFA Technical Centre in Basseterre, Saint Kitts and Nevis.

With the result, Saint Martin now sit firmly atop the group with six points through two matches, while Bonaire are still with no points after one match.

An even first half in which neither side were able to break through gave way to a more open second stanza, but the first goal would not arrive until the 67th.

The man to do it was Sheehander Martinus, who was at the right place at the right time, turning in a rebound after back-to-back shots off a free kick for a 1-0 Bonaire lead.

Saint Martin quickly got back on level terms though, thanks to Axel Raga, who scored his fifth goal of this CNL in the 75th.

Keelan Lebon’s shot from distance took a deflection off a Bonaire defender and fell right to Raga at the far post, making for an easy stroke into net for Raga.

The momentum was now with Saint Martin, and they made the most of it, getting the winning goal in the 87th, after an own goal from Bonaire’s Jurven Koffy when a cross deflected off his leg and into net.

Related items

  • Kane admits 'I'd swap everything' for Euro 2024 glory Kane admits 'I'd swap everything' for Euro 2024 glory

    Harry Kane admits he would "swap everything I've done in my career" to win Euro 2024 with England, who face Spain in Sunday's final.

    The Three Lions, who were runners-up to Italy in the delayed Euro 2020, are appearing in their second successive European Championship show-piece, and aiming to go the extra step by claiming their first major tournament silverware since lifting the 1966 World Cup.

    Kane has already made history at this tournament, becoming the record goalscorer in the knockout stages of both the European Championship (six) and major tournaments overall among European players (nine).

    England and Tottenham's all-time leading scorer, the Bayern Munich striker is still seeking the first team trophy of his impressive career, and he is desperate to end that wait in Berlin.

    "It's no secret that I haven't won a team trophy," he told reporters during the pre-match press conference. "Every year that goes by, you are more determined and motivated to change that.

    "I have the opportunity to win one of the biggest [trophies] you can ever win and make history with my nation.

    "I am extremely proud to be English so, no question, I'd swap everything I've done in my career to have a special night and a win tomorrow evening, but that's not the case.

    "[There will be] a lot of hard work from now and until that moment. I'm ready to go and to make tomorrow night a special one."

    It will certainly not be easy for England against the most impressive team of the tournament in Spain, who have won all six of their matches while scoring 13 goals for the loss of just four.

    La Roja have put host nation Germany and France to the sword along the way, and are widely regarded as the favourites to lift the Henri Delaunay cup at the Olympiastadion.

    Asked if he thought that was the case, Kane added: "That's not for me or the players to decide. That's for the media, the fans to think of favourites.

    "But Spain have had a fantastic tournament. They have probably been the best team, consistency-wise throughout the tournament, so they probably earn that right, but as we know in football, in one game, anything can happen.

    "We back ourselves against anyone we play against. We've been through difficult spells in this tournament, but we've come through the other side. That builds a tremendous amount of belief and resilience, which is everything you need in a final.

    "We expect a tough game. We're in a European final, so we expect nothing less, and Spain will be difficult tomorrow night."

  • England must win Euro 2024 to earn 'respect of the footballing world', Southgate insists England must win Euro 2024 to earn 'respect of the footballing world', Southgate insists

    Gareth Southgate believes England must win Euro 2024 on Sunday if they are to earn "the respect of the footballing world".

    The Three Lions face Spain in the tournament's climax at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, aiming to land only the second major silverware of their history - 58 years after their World Cup triumph on home soil.

    Runners-up to Italy at the delayed Euro 2020, England are only the fourth different nation to appear in successive European Championship finals - along with Spain, Germany and the Soviet Union.

    Southgate, who has led his nation to their first major tournament final on foreign soil, has also guided them to the 2018 semi-finals and 2022 quarter-finals at the two World Cups he has overseen.

    And the Three Lions head coach acknowledges all that is missing is a trophy.

    "We tried to change the mindset from the start," he told reporters during his pre-match press conference. "We tried to be more honest about where we were as a football nation.

    "I've travelled to World Cups, European Championships watching as an observer and watched highlight reels of matches on the big screens - and we weren't in any of them.

    "We needed to change that. We had high expectations, but they didn't match where we were performance-wise. Now, the high expectations are still there, but we've had consistent performances, certainly over three of the last four tournaments and a quarter-final in the fourth.

    "In the end, you have to be in the latter stages of tournaments to learn how to win the big games. A lot of records we have broken, but we know we have to do this one, to get this trophy to really feel the respect of the footballing world."

    England endured an underwhelming start in Germany, topping Group C despite winning just one of their three games and scoring just two goals.

    Jude Bellingham's stoppage-time strike and Harry Kane's extra-time header rescued them in their last-16 tie against Slovakia, while a penalty shootout was required to see off Switzerland in the quarter-finals.

    Southgate switched from a 4-2-3-1 formation to a 3-4-3 in the latter contest, and stuck with that in the semi-finals, where England produced their best performance of the tournament as they saw off the Netherlands thanks to Ollie Watkins' last-gasp winner.

    "We've had to find a different way of playing as the tournament progressed," the Three Lions head coach added. 

    "We've been trying to find the right blend and balance for our attacking players because we've got super talent, but a lot who like to operate in similar areas.

    "We feel we've started to find that balance. We've looked dangerous, like we could score goals again, and I'm happy with where the team were at going into this game."

  • Navas confirms international retirement after Euro 2024 final Navas confirms international retirement after Euro 2024 final

    Jesus Navas confirmed he will retire from international duty following Spain's Euro 2024 final showdown with England on Sunday.

    The 38-year-old, who will bring the curtain down on an international career spanning 15 years, is the last remaining member of La Roja's 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championship-winning sides.

    Navas has appeared three times for Spain during this tournament, captaining the side in their final Group B game against Albania, while deputising for the suspended Dani Carvajal at right-back in the semi-final win over France.

    The Sevilla wing-back, who will call time on his professional career later this year, admitted he has played through the pain barrier in recent years.

    Speaking ahead of Sunday's final, Navas highlighted similarities between Spain's current crop and the side that won three successive major international honours from 2008 to 2012.

    Although, he only lifted the lid on his international future following a conversation with skipper Alvaro Morata. 

    "[Morata] told me that it was time for me to speak since it is my last game with Spain!" he told reporters during the pre-match press conference.

    "I have been having a problem with my hip for four or five years, but playing for my country is everything for me.

    "I just want to leave everything on the pitch. You have to die for every moment here, for your team and your country. It is the biggest thing, and I am so proud of that.

    "Afterwards, everything hurts, but it is about giving it all you have on the day, to be the same person with the same kind of humility.

    "I am excited about everything that I have done in football and in the national team. Being here as a 38-year-old is unique and incredible.

    "In those years of success, we were a team both on and off the pitch. That was noticeable when we played, and it is the same here."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.