Sometimes, To Win, You Have to Play to Lose
Barbados, Grenada, and Puerto Rico were grouped together in the qualifying round. In the first two games, Grenada beat Puerto Rico, 2-0 while Barbados lost to Puerto Rico, 1-0. With Grenada and Barbados set to play, the potential outcomes were clear. Grenada would advance with a win. With goal differential being the tiebreaker, however, Barbados needed to do more than just win outright. They needed to win by at least two goals; otherwise, Grenada would advance. There were no ties in the qualifying round — instead, tie games went into sudden death overtime.
For some reason, the tournament organizers decided that overtime goals would be worth two points. So when Barbados found themselves winning, 2-1, with less than ten minutes left, they had two choices: try and score a third goal — unlikely versus a lock-down Grenada defense; or intentionally score an own goal, tying the game at 2-2, and hoping for the best in overtime. They went with the second strategy, as shown in this video.
With the game tied, 2-2, what was strange became stranger. Grenada realized that a 3-2 win or a 3-2 loss would be equally effective, so they tried to score in either goal — Barbados’ or their own. For five frantic minutes, Barbados defended both goals against the two-fronted Grenada assault. Grenada failed, and Barbados netted the game-winner in overtime, winning 4-2, and advancing past the qualifying round.
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