A penalty from the Suriname goalkeeper in injury time ensured a dramatic end to the 2nd match on opening night in Group C of the Digicel Cup and sent the large home crowd into hysterics. The Netherlands Antilles came in as the underdogs for their encounter against the hosts in the feature game but turned out to be formidable opponents almost upstaging the home team.
This was a faster paced game than the first and Suriname took the lead following 37 minutes of intriguing football, only for the Netherlands Antilles to draw level in the 81st minute of equally high octane action. And just when it looked like Suriname were heading for a disappointing 1-1 draw, Vlijter Ives was brought down in the box and referee Bryan Willet of Antigua & Barbuda had to hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot.
Trusted, tried and proven Surinamese goalkeeper Rony Aloema who is the Vice Captain of the team was given the chance of guiding his team to full points and that he did just that by slotting home his low shot past his opposite number Marcello Pisas, captain of the Netherlands Antilles team. On the balance of play Suriname deserved their victory, and in truth should not have caused their spectators such a nervous finale. For the neutral observer it was tremendous excitement.
From the first whistle, the action was fast and energetic as the Netherlands side took the charge to the home team. However, as the game developed, Suriname gradually took an element of control on proceedings and had a number of opportunities from both wings where the ball was fizzed across the face of the goal only for the finishing touch to be found wanting. Urged on by a vociferous home crowd, the attacks from Suriname were fast and many but lacked that clinical touch in the final third.
Midfielder Emelio Limon, one of the players who was in the first batch who attended the one-week coaching clinic at the Sunderland AFC Academy; selected from the Digicel Kick Start Clinics (2008) set up the opening goal when he slide a killer pass through to Ives Vlijter, Vlijter made no mistake in finishing much to the delight home crowd who had become a little agitated at this point.
The second half continued in a similar fashion to the first with the hosts creating the majority of the openings but their inability to finish also continued, Marlon Felter fired over the bar, Wensley Christoph went wide of the mark, and Vlijter showed great skill with two quick step overs to dummy Pisas in the Netherlands goal, only to shoot wide of the right hand post, an incredible missed opportunity.
The Netherlands Antilles made them pay for their lack of a killer punch when they leveled the score from a goal mouth scrimmage, Lacey Pauletta getting the final touch in a scramble from a corner kick with 9 minutes left. On occasion they had looked dangerous going forward so the warning signs were there, the disappointment among the home support was palpable.
With the fourth official signaling 3 minutes of added time, the nippy Vlijter, most definitely a dangerous and exciting attacker, ran at the Netherlands defense on the right side of the penalty area about 3 yards inside the box, he was rewarded for his direct play when he was brought to the ground by a rash challenge. A penalty was the only option. Aloema was tasked with the responsibility, and he managed to hold his nerve to strike a powerful effort past his opposite number. It brought to an end an exciting game and just reward for the Suriname Football Federation who is hosting the Digicel Cup for the first time ever.
Attention will now be turned to the second day of competition on Friday when Suriname play St. Lucia in the feature game with Guyana taking on the Netherlands Antilles in the opener.