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BVI beats USVI in ‘V.I. Classic II’ in penalty-kick shootout

BVI beats USVI in ‘V.I. Classic II’ in penalty-kick shootout

ROAD TOWN, Tortola — The British Virgin Islands’ senior men’s national soccer team finally won a big game over its closest rival.

The Nature Boyz battled with the U.S. Virgin Islands in “V.I. Classic II” for nearly three hours Tuesday in their CONCACAF Qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2026 rematch before emerging on top after a penalty kick shootout at the A.O. Shirley Recreation Ground in Tortola.

“Since I came, I love the island. I love the people here, they shout out my name on the street sometimes, coach Chris, but also, it’s a lot of pressure,” BVI head coach Chris Kiwomya said. “There were a lot of fans telling me, ‘We need to win,’ and I’m saying hopefully, we can. Now the players have done it, they can celebrate with family and friends. I feel truly blessed to be able to do that.”

Like two heavyweight fighters, the BVI and the Dashing Eagles went scoreless through 90 minutes of regulation play (plus an additional five minutes of stoppage time), then two 15-minute overtime periods tied at 0-0.

That sent the match — and the winning team’s advancement in the CONCACAF Qualifiers — on to penalty kicks. The Nature Boyz went ahead early 3-1, the substitute midfielder Azarni Callwood punched in the game winner for a 4-2 margin.

“I told them — I told Mr. [Kye M.] Rymer [the BVI Minister of Communications and Works] that I was going to win it for him,” Callwood told The Daily News as Rymer acknowledged the conversation. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever felt in my life and I’ve felt a lot of things. This is the best.

“When I came on, my impact was to change the game, not long talking. It’s so crazy to think of how far we have come in a short time. … We’re coming to fight. We aren’t coming to play.”

The win ended the British Virgin Islands’ 28-year drought in World Cup qualifying matches, and sends the Nature Boyz on to the CONCACAF Qualifiers’ second round, which begins in June.

There, the BVI will be in Group E, and will play against Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala and Jamaica for the chance to advance to the final round.

Each team had their chances to put home goals during regulation in Tuesday’s match, with BVI goalkeeper Frankie Beckles and USVI goalkeeper Dylan Ramos both making saves to keep the clean sheets.

“I told the boys before the game started that we have to do everything we can to play our style. It doesn’t matter if they score. It doesn’t matter the number of players we have on the field, the number they have on the field, we have to play our game,” USVI head coach Gilberto “Giba” Damiano told The Daily News. “It worked at times when we had the composure to move the ball around and there we times when it was a bit difficult, because they made the first half difficult for us, pressing us a little higher and we really couldn’t play our best.”

However, a key moment came late in the second half when U.S. Virgin Islands defender Quinn Farrell head-butted British Virgin Islands substitute Bill Green and drew a red card in the 71st minute..

That sent Farrell to the sidelines — and forced the Dashing Eagles to finish the match with just 10 players on the field.

“We had chances to win to game, so did they, but I think overall, it was an even hard battle contest,” Kiwomya said. “The sending off [of Farrell] changed the game a little bit, but we just couldn’t get over the line. It came down to penalties as I said it would do. It came down to substitutions as I said it would do, and thankfully, the goalkeeper turned up for us and the penalty takers as well.”

Even though the USVI’s defense stiffened and was able to keep the BVI from scoring in both regulation and the overtime periods, the Dashing Eagles also failed to convert on several scoring opportunities as well.

“It becomes difficult in a World Cup qualifying game where you have one chance to try to win, it’s even more difficult when you lose a player. But the boys’ discipline and attitude kept them in the game,” Damiano said.

“I believe we created more chances when we had a player down, and that was the game. We gave everything. We tried everything and congratulations to the BVI for the first time winning a World Cup Qualifier game and I wish them good luck.”

Kavon “Troy” Caesar, who has been the BVI’s captain since 2011 and endured numerous years of losses, said he was lost for words.

“It’s a long time I’ve been representing the BVI and to be able to lead the team to victory today and creating some history for the BVI, is just a wonderful feeling,” Caesar said. “I just have to thank God for his blessings towards the team and the country.”


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