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HomeNewsLocal newsDraw Forces BVI/USVI World Cup Do-Or-Die

Draw Forces BVI/USVI World Cup Do-Or-Die

The BVI and USVI soccer teams are playing for their 2026 World Cup-aspiration lives Tuesday after Friday’s 1-1 draw. (Photo courtesy FIFA)
The BVI and USVI soccer teams are playing for their 2026 World Cup-aspiration lives Tuesday after Friday’s 1-1 draw. (Photo courtesy FIFA)

A 1-1 tie between British and U.S. Virgin Islands put the two national soccer teams in must-win positions to make the next round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers, the USVI coach said Saturday. Whichever team wins Tuesday’s match in Tortola goes on to play in the group stages against powerhouses like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.

Although the USVI Dashing Eagles dominated ball possession in Fridays match in St. Croix, the BVI Nature Boys played to their defensive strength, frustrating any attacks. “We didn’t get many chances as they played a very low block with five players at the back,” said coach Giba Damiano. “They didn’t leave their positions so it was very difficult to break that block.”

But in the 73rd minute, USVI midfielder Jett Blaschka took a throw-in in the chest, let the ball bounce once, then blasted in the go-ahead goal with his left foot, Damiano said. It was the first international goal for 24-year-old Blaschka, who plays club ball in Gibraltar.

“Then we kind of ended up playing a game that was a very dangerous one,” he said. Rather than pulling back to protect the lead, the Dashing Eagles continued to push offensively. The tactic almost worked.

“We tried to go forward when we really didn’t need to. We had to be a little more cautious of their strength, which is a defensive counterattack,” Damiano said.

In the 98th minute — eight minutes into extra time — the Nature Boys owned a transitional moment halfway between midfield and the USVI penalty box. A stealthy pass slid to the left of USVI defenders. A quick cross found Hugo Liziario, who knocked in the equalizing BVI goal.

“It’s sad to have conceded a goal,” Damiano said after meeting with the team Saturday morning. “But overall, I’m happy with the performance of the team.”

USVI Dashing Eagles captain Joshua Ramos and coach Giba Damiano. (Submitted photo)
USVI Dashing Eagles captain Joshua Ramos and coach Giba Damiano. (Submitted photo)

Damiano, a Brazilian who has managed the USVI team since 2019, said they’d recently reworked their style of play — something he hoped would give fans a chance to cheer more often.

“That was the first time we were able to play a 90-minute competitive game to see if everything we worked on with them was going to come out,” he said. “I’m happy with what they did.”

In a CONCACAF scheduling anomaly, the match Friday was the first between the neighboring national teams in at least a decade. In 2014, The USVI team took both World Cup qualifying matches over the BVI.

The FIFA global rankings list Argentina, France, England, Belgium, and Brazil as the top five best. The bottom five are Turks and Caicos, BVI, USVI, Anguilla, and San Marino, ahead of unranked Eritrea.

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