Nicaragua is better known as a baseball-playing nation. Nicaragua with five runner-up finishes in the Baseball World Cup. Nicaragua did not even try to qualify for the World Cup until the USA hosted the World Cup in 1994. We can see that hosting the World Cup can influence even other federations with in your own confederation. Football is catching on with they younger generation. Nicaragua national football team just earned its first major soccer honor when it qualified for the Gold Cup by beating Guatemala 2-0. It was Nicaragua’s first victory over Guatemala, a former Central American champion, in 17 tries.
There is a new scene of optimism now with in Nicaragua. Recently Fifa has committed $10 Million to develop the domestic leagues in CONCACAF. There are 11 nations that will split this money over 2 years. The money is supposed to develop the Domestic league. It is also will invest into each club to make the leagues more competitive. The clubs in turn have to show some progress in developing its youth system. This is not a lot of money however when you have no money any money is huge.
The top domestic league is called Primera Division of Nicaragua. It has 10 teams. The league does have regulation with 2 teams dropping to a lower league. Nicaragua does have a dynasty in Diriange FC. Diriange FC play in the City of Diriamba. Diriamba is a mountain town located on Nicaragua West coast. Diriamba is about 1 hour from Managua. Diriange FC is a 26-time Nicaraguan league champion and they play in the second largest stadium with a capacity of 7,500. Diriange FC chief rival is six-time champion Real Esteli. Real Esteli plays in their own stadium Estadio Independencia that holds 4,800. Presently there are 8 teams that can match Diriange FC on the field. The national team use to be mostly comprised from Diriange FC players but now they come from many different clubs.
Last year Real Esteli was representing Nicaragua in the CONCACAF Champions League. They could not play any games with in Nicaragua since no fields meet FIFA regulations. The University has donated land for the national team to build a soccer stadium that will meet FIFA requirements. FIFA paid the first phase that cost $1.2 Million dollars. The artificial field was installed in March and the first phase will have 3,000 spectators. This would allow a Club team like Real Esteli to host a Champions League game on Nicaraguan soil.
This land donation and the building of a “National Stadium” is the biggest boost Nicaragua soccer has ever received. This action will be a huge boost to the league and marketing for the Nicaraguan top league. The stadium would also provide a field for the selected national team to practice before the start of the Gold Cup 2009. The construction is 3 phases and the completed project is supposed to hold 30,000 spectators and complete in four years. Nicaragua is in a very early stage of being consistent competitors with the rest of Central America but they will be the most improved nation over then next few years.
If a nation could be Nicaragua rival it would be Panama. They have won 4 games while losing 11 against Panama. This is the best record Nicaragua has against any nation.