Saint Lucia defeated Guadeloupe 2-1 in an exciting Concacaf Nations League fixture at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground [DSCG], on Thursday, to sit atop the table in League B, Group A of this season’s tournament.
With this resounding result, Saint Lucia maintains the lead in League B, Group A after three group games; and Team 758 is now poised for promotion with Guadeloupe, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Sint Maarten rounding out the group in that order.
Having battled against its neighbourly French opponents for the past 20 years and more –Team Saint Lucia pulled off a remarkable victory before its home fans.
The support was impeccable and the fans savoured every bit of that success, which had eluded the home side over the years.
Though the French visitors made early inroads to take a 29’ minute lead, Saint Lucia scored a goal on either side of the half to claim the win.
Jerome Roussillon put the visitors ahead in the 29’ after connecting on a long pass from Andreaw Gravillon. Roussillon brought the ball down inside the box with his left before striking with his right.
But it was the Saint Lucian German-based professional striker Caniggia Elva who was the ‘star of the game’ as he ignited the offense on his debut representation for the National Senior Men’s team.
Elva tied the encounter 1-1 in the 45’ as Saint Lucia pushed for the equalizer before halftime. Janoi Donacien propelled the play forward before passing to Elva inside the box.
Elva shot a powerful left-booter deftly into the far corner that sent the vociferous crowd into a cheerful frenzy, particularly with the Vieux Fort fans rooting for the young dashing striker.
Gregson President was denied on a breakaway in the 55’ as Davy Royard was there to block as the last line of defense. Royard had another save just one minute later to keep the score level.
Jevick Mac Farlane put the home side in front 2-1 in the 58’ with a right-footed shot into goal. Elva provided the through ball as Saint Lucia completed an attack through the left flank.
It was the first time in more than 20 years that Saint Lucia had beaten Guadeloupe, prompting the visiting coach Jocelyn Angloma to state that Team 758 has upped its game over time.
On the other hand, the Head Coach of the Saint Lucia squad Stern John was pleased with the results, saying though Guadeloupe is a “well-oiled” team, the home team has the quality of players to match up to the challenge.
John acknowledged the timely and effective inclusion of professional players in the team buildup, as he spoke to reporters at the post-match briefing.
“I feel it’s a lot better,” he asserted. “In Caniggia’s case, we looked at his season’s goals and his assists…and he led the line well with his experience. It is something that we’ve been for, for several months like that striker who can hold up that ball good and run in behind it.”
The coach hinted that there may be some changes to the squad for the return leg match, this weekend since several of the players got “banged up” in Thursday’s game.
“A lot of guys ran a lot of miles, tonight (Thursday) and we have to look after them and we may have to change the system …and we’re trying to go there and get a result as well,” he said.
Speaking on his approach to the game situation, Caniggia declared: “I guess it depends on the game, I just like to give my all for the team, and 100% where I can …and my role in the team is to be a leader”.
“The experience, which I’ve gained in Europe, so far, I try to bring that into the team … but it takes time as a team, it’s a beginning and we are about to gel together and I feel from there, it’s only going to get better again.”
Team Saint Lucia was due to leave the island on Friday for Guadeloupe, to play their return leg match on Sunday 15th October.
Headline photo: Caniggia Elva on the offensive prowl.