Another Nostalgia piece – this time looking back on Antigua & Barbuda’s 1998 Caribbean Cup triumph when they finished in the last four…
The 1998 Caribbean Cup, hosted by Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago, saw Antigua & Barbuda serve up a surprise as they reached the semi-finals of the competition.
Qualifying – Unbeaten string of matches secures progression to group stages
Antigua were placed in Group 4, along with Grenada, Guyana and Anguilla. A 2-2 draw to Guyana in the opening game was followed by a thrashing of Anguilla – in which The Benny Boyz were rampant to say the least.
All this before a narrow 2-1 victory over Grenada, who finished in second spot on 6 points. Consequently, the Antiguan side topped the group on 7 points, sealing progression to the first round.
Group Stages – Second was significant enough
In the first round, there were two groups. Antigua & Barbuda were put into Group A with their first match coming against a stylish, talented Trinidad & Tobago team – a match they lost, just, 3-2.
A 2-1 win over Dominica followed, with Derrick Edwards and Winston Roberts grabbing the crucial goals that gave Antigua the platform to carry onto the final tie against Martinique, and a 5-1 hammering of the latter was assured.
So second place was just enough. Bring on the semi-finals…
Semi-finals & 3rd Place Playoffs – Spirit prominent but quality lacking
So who were the opponents for the semi-finals? Jamaica. And Antigua did so well to keep their fierce rivals at bay for normal time, until Onandi Lowe struck in extra time to send Antigua & Barbuda into a 3rd Place Playoff with Haiti who lost to Trinidad & Tobago in the other semi-final.
And that would produce a magnificent encounter, with Antigua ending up the losing team in a five-goal thriller. Vaughn Christopher and Ranjae Christian bagged the duo of goals for Antigua but it wasn’t enough. The team spirit was never in question, but Haiti edged it in terms of quality.
Despite being knocked out at the very last stage of the tournament in which the Antiguans thrived in, the team still had, and do today, reason to celebrate after such a spirited, admirable display at the Caribbean Cup of 1998.
By Nathan Carr