Saturday, January 14, 2017

Central American Cup 2017 preview

Central American Cup 2017 - Panama

Central American Cup 2017
13–22 January 2017

            This is the 14th edition of this Cup which is bi-annual like the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The top 4 nations qualify for the Gold Cup. The 5th place team enters a playoff-series against the 5th place Caribbean nation for the last Gold Cup spot. This tournament runs Jan 13th through the 22nd. Panama will be your host.

Costa Rica dominance
Image result for costa rica fans
            Costa Rica has dominated this event. The Tico’s have been in every Championship game, except one. They have won 8 of the 12 Titles they played in. Costa Rica has won the last 2 tournaments and again they are the the favorite to win again. They are the reigning Champions and they have a lot of passionate fans.  

Hosting controversy
            This will be Panama’s 3rd time hosting the event. The problem is that neither Nicaragua nor Belize has host yet. Panama is a great pick to host however they just hosted in 2011 and 2003. I believe Panamas new influence, both economically and the prowess of the soccer success allowed them to leapfrog both Belize and Nicaragua. They all want the tournament to be well attended and Panama is the best option at this time.

More Competitive
            In previous tournaments Belize and Nicaragua were just not competitive. They would lose by multiple goals. Now they can play all nations tight. Both Belize and Nicaragua have been to the semi-finals game and each was invited to the Gold Cup. Honduras can give Costa Rica a good game. Panama has improved so much they can be Costa Ricas’ equal if they are at home. This tournament they will be the host and have all home games. This is Panama’s best chance to win the Central American Cup.

New Format with Guatemala not allowed to play
            There use to be 2 groups. One group of 3 nations and one group of 4. This was always unfair since some nations would play more group games. This years tournament Guatemala is not allowed to play. This is punishment by FIFA. The nations will all play each other once.
            To me the big game is Panama v Costa Rica. I believe the winner of this game will win the tournament. 

Bold Predictions

Related image
Rommell Stadium in Panama will host the Central American Cup 2017
  1. Panama
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Honduras
  4. El Salvador
  5. Nicaragua
  6. Belize

Friday, July 8, 2016

Caribean Cup 3rd Round predictions.

Caribbean Cup 3rd round
Oct 3rd, 6th and 9th
With the Copa America 2016  in the books…the next tournament is scheduled the 2017 Gold Cup. Unless it gets canceled. With that being said…….it is never to late to start thinking about this nice little tournament, where the USA gets to feel good about their program and play well against the minnows. The top 4 Central American nations automatically qualify and the top 4 Caribbean
nations also qualify (Along with USA, Mex and Canada). The Last tournament 2015 Gold Cup there were no new nations. French Guiana almost participated but lost in a playoff to Honduras.  The 2017 Gold cup will have at least one brand new participant which will come from the Caribbean nations. (Every country in Central America has already participated. Nicaragua  (2009) and  Belize (2013) have already participated once.)

The Caribbean Cup places the top 4 in the Gold Cup. The last 12 are broken into 4 groups of 3. The winner of these groups automatically qualify for the Gold cup. (There will be a “new” team participating for the 2017 Gold Cup, which will be exciting.) They also advance to the  knockout round for the Caribbean Cup. Old guards Jamaica and Tridnidad and Tobago are your favorites.
Group 1
  1. Jamaica
  2. Guyana
  3. Suriname
This group has the reigning champions Jamaica. They won the Caribbean Cup 3 of the last 4 tournaments. Jamaica reached the final for the 2015 Gold Cu. I see Jamaica progressing here. There are 2 quality  South American nations in Guyana and Suriname ready to prove their worth. Guyana is good at home…pounding US Virgina Isl 7-0 in the last round. Suriname also got by St Vincent's in the previous round to advance.

Group 2

  1. Haiti
  2. French Guiana
  3. St Kitts
This group has Haiti who had the bye to this round because of their ranking. Haiti has placed in the top 4 the last 2 Cups. Haiti is also, one of only 5 teams to win the Caribbean Cup. Haiti will be challenged by both French Guiana and Saint Kitts. French Guiana topped past pesky Bermuda in both the first and second rounds. They also knocked out regional power Cuba in round 1 in a surprise. St Kitts beat both Suriname and St Vincent's to advance posting shutouts in both games.

Group 3

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Curacao
There are no teams who got a bye in this group. This group will place a team directly into the Gold Cup 2017. One of these nations will be making their debut in the Gold Cup 2017. I was only hoping for Puerto Rico since they have a larger population and probably would have many more fans at Gold Cup games. However I hope for a team that is fundamentally sound that can contend with the elite of CONCACAF to emerge. Antigua and Barbuda and Puerto Rico were also matched up in an earlier round 2. It took Puerto Rico Extra added time to beat both Grenada and A&B. Antigua and Barbuda however pounded Grenada 5-1 at home. Curacao received the top seed and will have the extra days rest, Curacao has the two leading scores of the tournament. The 2 massive strikers in 6’1”Gino van Kessell and  6’2” Felitciano Zschusschen both were born in the Netherlands and play in Europe. Curacao (Dutch nation) already beat Guyana 5-2, then went on and pounded US Virginan Isl 7-0 in the previous round. They are my favorite to advance here.

Group 4 preview
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Dominican Republic
  3. Martinique
   This group is like a World Cup group in the diversity of languages. T&T speak English, Dominican Republic speak Spanish and Martinique speak French. I have to say I use to hate T&T but that was because of the corrupt thief Jack Warner. T&T has won the most Caribbean Cup with 8 –however they have hosted the most with 8. Now I enjoy T&T play the beautiful game. They have big athletic players who play a tactically sound game. They are your favorites here in this group. The Dominican Republic has the 2nd highest population in the Caribbean with over 10 Million; only behind Cuba. CONCACAF wants Dominican Republic in the tournament for fan and tv viewership interest. . Dominican Republic also has many people living in the states. I would love to see them come out and cheer their team for the Gold Cup. The Dominican REp beat both Bermuda and French Guiana which is impressive. The question is,,,can they beat the perennial power of T&T in T&T.? Martinique has participated in 4 Gold Cups, making it the 5th best in the Caribbean.  So don’t count this French Island out of anything. Martinique islanders are no doubt very proud of France reaching the final of the EURO 2016 Cup. This is one tough little group to get through.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Caribbean Cup 2016

                This tournament will again act as a qualifier for the 2017 Gold Cup. The top 4 teams will get a bids to the tournament while the 5th place nation will enter into a playoff game against the 5th place Central American Cup finalist. This playoff is a great idea in the fact it creates more interest between the 2 regions.
                The Draw: 4 teams were given byes (T&T, Jamaica, Haiti and St Vincent and the Grenadines)
The first round :  The odd thing about the draw was that Group 1 has the 3 highest ranked teams (that did not get byes) A&B , St Kitts and Aruba in the same group.  A&B is in the drivers seat with a 1-0 over Aruba. However anything could happen here with these teams.
Group 2: Grenada should cruise to an easy win here over US Virgin Islands and lowly Sint Maarten. Anything else will be a big upset.

Group 3: Another  quality group with Caribbean power Cuba, the rich Bermuda nation and the South American participant French Guiana. Cuba has the advantage with one win Bermuda in Havana.                            Unfortunately for Cuba they have to travel to South America for their leg.  We could see a changing of the guards here.
Group 4: Dominican Republic, Barbados and Curacao. Ugggg. Barbados have been producing quality teams these last fee cycles, Playing the yanks in the last World Cuip qualification. Curacao (formally Netherlands Antilles) has that Dutch mentality and show technically sound teams. Barbados slipped by the Dutch island 1-0 and lead this group. Dominican Republic has the huge population of about 8 million and would make thing interesting if they could get this population behind their team.
Group 5 The South American nation of Guyana should battle Puerto Rico for top spot and both should get bye Anguilla. Nothing to report here. Hopefully Puerto Rico can incorporate their domestic team Puerto Rico inlanders players on the team and create interest on this heavly populated island.
Group 6 Both Guadeloupe and Suriname will beat Saint Martin.
Group 7 Martinique and Dominica will both get by British Virgin Islands. It is just a matter of who win the group.

The secnd round is where and when things get interesting.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Panama will host the next Central American Cup

UNCAF Copa Centroamericana logo.png

         The next Central American Cup will be held in Panama --Surprise - Surprise Surprise!
As you can see it is Guatemala's turn to host. Guatemala has not hosted since 2005 and Panama recently hosted in 2011. 

Costa Rica
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
United States
Costa Rica

              It seems that Panama's economy, influence and bid "package" was able to influence the bid committee.
          Neither Nicaragua nor Belize has ever host this regional tournament. If I was going to guess I thought it would be either Nicaragua or Belize. Then I would have had odds that Guatemala, El Salvador then Honduras would be next in line to host in that order. So what happened to "who's turn is it?"
Rommell Stadium  has had major renovations for the 2011 tournament. The Stadium now has a nice looking roof for many fans. The last Central American Cup Rommell hosted all the games. I don't see any change here.

The tournament will be 17–28 January 2017.