(This is not official since it has not been released by Caribbean Football Union CFU)
The Caribbean Cup is a tournament for the CFU currently played biannually (in even years). The Caribbean Cup serves as a qualifier for the CONCACAF’s Gold Cup. The final 4 nations will qualify as the Caribbean representatives to the Gold Cup. This years tournament has 24 nations (territories) participating. That will be 3 more that the last tournament. This year’s final will be hosted in Martinique. This is good since T&T has hosted 9 tournaments which gave them a huge advantage. (Trinidad & Tobago also won 9 Cups).
This will give all nations a fresh start the next World Cup Qualifying cycle. The first games will start Aug 17th in Antigua and Barbuda and ends in Nov 28th in Martinique. There will be 3 rounds. The First round has 16 teams broken into 4 groups of 4 nations. The top 6 teams will advance to the second round. The second round will have 12 teams. These teams will be broken into 3 groups of 4 teams. There will be 6 seeded teams in the Second Round (Cuba, Guyana, Grenada, Trinidad & Tobago, Guadeloupe and Haiti) waiting the 6 teams that advanced from round 1. Then the top 6 teams from the Second round group advance to the Final 8 in Martinique.
The Contenders (3)
Martinique: You always have to consider the host of any tournament and this one is not different. Do not laugh at this little soccer power house. Martinique is one of only 4 teams to win the Caribbean Cup(Champions 1993). Martinique has also made the Gold Cup 3 times. This was when CONCACAF had to invite guess teams to participate. They were also runner up in 1994 to the host Trinidad and Tobago. They have recently seen their arch rival Guadeloupe make the Gold Cup and want to regain their soccer prowess in the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago: They are two tiny islands off the South America coast with a population of about 1 Million You have to mention the 8 times Champions Trinidad and Tobago. They are one of the favorites to win it again. They have an excellent youth program and have the best club teams in the Caribbean.
Jamaica: They are the reigning Champions and will be looking forward to defend their title. They have won the Caribbean Cup champion 4 times and want to remain on top in the Caribbean. They have a very talented, athletic and proud team. Now their coaching issues are settled maybe we can see some cohesiveness from the Raggae Boyz.
Cuba: Cuba has a very good soccer program at both the youth and senior level. They are the only Caribbean team to “place” in the last 4 Caribbean Cup Championships, they accomplished this feat 5 Caribbean Cup in a row. I wonder if they had hosted any of these Caribbean Cup how many they would have won?
Haiti: One of only 4 nations to win the Caribbean Cup. Les Grenadiers last won the 2007 Caribbean Cup. They also had fine form in the Gold Cup tying the USA in the states. An earthquake devastated their Island and this tournament will give some a break from the misery that surrounds the country. They are tall, fast and athletic. They just need cohesiveness to propel themselves to the Finals.
Guadeloupe: Guadeloupe has been in very good form since 2006. They came in 4th (Caribbean Cup 20006-7)and went to the 2007 Gold Cup. At the Gold Cup they made the knockout round. Then they proceeded to beat Honduras and make the semi-finals. Again in the 2008 Caribbean Cup they placed in the final 4 and again went to the Gold Cup 2009. Guadeloupe again made the knockout round. This tournament is on sister island Martinique. They will be well versed in the language and the culture. Watch out for the Gwada Boys.
This group I am most anxious to see play. Three of these nations are hosting games. It will be very interesting as to how many fans turn out in each country. I believe Guyana will lead the attendance. Puerto Rico should have a good turn out since their fans have been waiting with anticipation. They tied Honduras in World Cup Qualifying which was the last game I remember they play of significance.
Guyana: They have been slowly building the soccer program in Guyana for a few years. They just started their own league in 2008. They have half of their team playing in the club teams of Trinidad and Tobago. They are coached by Jamaal Shabazz (Trinidad and Tobago) since 2005. He provides stability and continuity. They are poised to make some noise here since they are seeded in the Second round and are hosting. They had the most fans attend a Caribbean Cup game last tournament at 10,000, more than double any other.
Grenada: Defense wins games and Grenada proved that last tournament. They are hosting a second round group that also has Trinidad and Tobago seeded. They will be playing at the Grenada National Stadium that holds about 9,000. Most of the national team is made up of players from the Grenada soccer league.
Puerto Rico: They have been on a similar path as Guyana. Puerto Rico just started a soccer league in 2008. There are currently 9 teams. Their current Champion (Bayamon FC) s on of 4 teams left in the CFU Cub. The top 3 qualify for The CONCACAF Champions League. The other team is none other than the Puerto Rico Islanders again. Collin Clarke can coach the national team like the Islanders they the entire Caribbean should take note. They have not entered in the last 2 Caribbean Cups but watch this team. 8,000national fans packed Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium when they played the Dominican Republic. We will see if they attend this group games.
Suriname: They made the final 12 in World Cup Qualifying which is the true test of the best teams in CONCACAF. Suriname has an established league since 1924. There are about 150 Surinamese players playing the Dutch professional Leagues. Depending who they bring in will depend how far they go. Will they disappear of will they surprise everyone again. They have the experience.