Khano a no-go as Caymans hope

Though not the biggest name in world football, Caribbean side Bermuda typically fare well in the early rounds of CONCACAF qualifying and will want to start things right when the Cayman Islands come calling on 3 January.

The underdog Caymans will be fancying their chances of taking a bite out of Bermuda who sit 44 spots above them in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Coached by the ultra-experienced Jamaican Carl Brown, the Caymanians feel they are catching their hosts at just the right time.

"It would be a mistake for Bermuda to underestimate us," the former Jamaica boss and Bolton Wanderers assistant told FIFA.com. "Our aim is to come back with all the points and build excitement ahead of the second leg andget people talking.

"We don't live in an ideal world, however, so we just want to make sure we don't leave all the points there," the Jamaican added in typically laid-back fashion.

Brown, who will be relying mainly on players from the US University system and boys from the local amateur league, has reason to feel a little upbeat despite the Caymans poor performance in previous qualifying rounds.

Just days ago news filtered down to the Bermudan capital of Hamilton that Khano Smith, the hosts' star speed merchant and goal threat from the New England Revolution, will be unavailable after failing to recover in time from a groin surgery he had in the MLS close season.

No Smith, no worries
Losing one of their precious few full-time professionals may have lesser men quaking in their boots ahead of a potential banana skin like the Caymans, but not Bermuda boss Keith Tucker.

"We're actually pretty strong in that part of the field, the coach remarked. "I have made preparations knowing that we might be without Khano and this will give an opportunity to some of the younger guys coming up."

The man tipped to fill Smith's big boots is one Domico Coddington, 23, of local side Devonshire Cougars, who the coach calls an "exciting entertainer in fine form at the moment."

If the absence of the team's top star isn't worrying Tucker, Bermuda's last two friendly results surely will be. The islanders dropped both legs of a two-game series to lowly, but rapidly improving, Puerto Rico.

Shut out in both matches (2-0 and 1-0), it looks as if Bermuda may not be all that hot in attack despite the confidence of coach Tucker.

Cayman boss Brown and his talented central defenders Donald Solomon and Tex Whitelock are sure to take notice.