Photo by Mexisport
The four Caribbean teams that qualified for this year’s Gold Cup two English speaking, (Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago), one Spanish speaking (Cuba) and one French speaking (Haiti) all advanced to the knock out stages of the competition, surprising many.
After securing an unexpected, but creditable 2-2 draw with group favourites Costa Rica, Jamaica went on to score consecutive 1-0 victories over Canada and El Salvador to top Group B. The Winfried Schafer coached Reggae Boyz was not expected to advance beyond the group stages, which makes their group winning performance all the more impressive.
Trinidad and Tobago also stunned many when they too ran out group winners. An impressive 3-1 win in their opening encounter against CONCACAF powerhouse Guatemala, was followed by a 2-0 win over Cuba, before they played out a dramatic and absorbing 4-4 draw with group favourites Mexico.
In what is arguably the game of the tournament so far, Trinidad and Tobago came from two goals down in the second half to take a 3-2 lead. Mexico equalized late in the game before taking a 4-3 lead in the dying embers of the match. But in a final twist in the tale of a very dramatic game, T&T scored to make it 4-4 in the third minute of stoppage time to secure a point and group honours.
Cuba, who has endured a virtual nightmare at the tournament so far, also added to the drama of the Gold Cup on Wednesday. Six players were denied entry into the USA because of visa issues and three players defecting since the tournament started, rocking the team to the core. A 6-0 loss to Mexico and a 2-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago meant that Cuba was on the brink of elimination. However an unexpected 1-0 win over Guatemala last night has seen them squeeze through as one of the best third placed teams.
Haiti has also put in a creditable if less dramatic performance at the Gold Cup. They opened the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Panama, before losing 1-0 to tournament favourites and defending champions the USA. They were however able to advance to the knock out stages when they defeated Honduras 1-0.
Cuba will face the USA on Saturday in the first quarter final at 5:00pm before Haiti and Jamaica square off in the second at 8:00pm.
Trinidad and Tobago will face Panama at 4:30pm on Sunday before the final quarter final at 7:30pm between Mexico and Costa Rica.