Sunday, February 27, 2011

Preview: US, Canada vie for CONCACAF U-17 title

Finally some media coverage that is worth a read. This is only about the game but is better than I could Do...

CONCACAF gives Jamaica passing grade

"Don't worry be happy" and "No problem man"

Zubiria declared that he could see Jamaica hosting future CONCACAF tournaments as the country has exhibited its resourcefulness and ability to organise.

"It's the first time we were organising aun event like this here, and I am sure it won't be the last time because of what we have seen... I think it's just a matter of time before Jamaica is awarded another tournament," he noted.

This CONCACAF youth tournament is a big step in the right direction to promote soccer. Jamaica put on a very good show. It was the first time 12 teams entered a youth tournament. There were problems but the organization committee solved these big issues (Haiti issues and moving out of a venue to a new one, just days before kickoff.

TV exposure increased and this will help the local economy of Mentego Bay. Jamaica as a whole also got exposure.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

CONCACAF U-17 -Jamaica

Since I love CONCACAF tournament I will have to give my 2 cents on this one. There are 12 teams participating and this is an increase from the previous tournaments. The 2009 tournament only had 8 nations participate. This is good that more CONCACAF nations can participate and develop their youth teams for tournaments.
The second good idea I like is the fact that a Champion will be crowned. Yup that’s right; the previous tournament only qualified the top teams in each group to go to the FIFA U-17 World Cup. There were no exciting knockout rounds games and no Champion could lift the trophy...What a shame that was. What was Warner and his pals thinking...Finally we will have an U-17 Champion to talk about.
Well this year’s tournament was awarded to Jamaica. I think it was awarded to a Caribbean nation since the USA always hosts the Gold Cup. The U-20 CONCACAF tournament is being hosted by a Central American Nation (2011) in Guatemala. So a Caribbean nation was a good pick. Jamaica has the facilities and it is a great destination to watch soccer in the winter.

About the tournament
Well since Mexico was not in the tournament every nation was shooting for the title. The USA has the resources to practice longer that most other countries. They are the country that every nation in CONCACAF loves to beat. Jamaica was the host nation so they have to be looked at. Costa Rica always turns out good national teams and always seems to make the final 4. Panama has been on an upward ride on both the national and young program. Honduras is always dangerous along with T&T.
Well Jamaica, USA, Canada and Panama all qualified as the best 4 from CONCACAF. They will all be participating the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico. The USA will play Canada in the final in Jamaica. Finally a Champion will be crowned. The …se 4 nations are thrilled sice the World Cup is at a CONCACAF nation….Mexico. Hopefully one of these U-17 CONCACAF nation will win a World Cup for us(CONCACAF fans_)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Expand the Gold Cup

Is Expansion the Answer?

Is there a way to recruit another quality nation to join CONCACAF. CONCACAF is like the Big East in football. They are one of the weaker confederations. The Big 10 has added Nebraska to boost their image. The PAC 10 has added Colarado and Utah to boost their image. The ACC took 3 top teams from the Big East (BC, Virginia Tech and Miami) to boost their image.

I was wondering if CONCACAF could recruit a nation like Australia. Australia use to be the king of the Oceanic Confederation. They left for a better conference in the Asian CONFEDERATION. I was wondering if CONCACAF could recruit Australia to play in CONCACAF. This would provide another quality team. Just like the football conferences having a better Championship in football. Australia would make it possible to expand the Gold Cup to 16 nations. The Gold Cup could have USA, Mexico, Canada and Australia anchor each group. Back them up with 5 quality teams each from the Central America and 7 nations from the Caribbean. Finally CONCACAF could have the highly important group stage games.

If not Australia what about Greenland. Greenland is a North American nation.Greenland could provide the Denmark B team. Almost every European B side is much better that every Caribbean nation. Greenland could boost the image of CONCACAF and the Gold Cup. This would also give the Gold Cup some European exposure.

I think since the USA lost it’s bid to host the World Cup 2014, 2018 and 2022 they have to do something to improve the Gold Cup. How about inviting 2 European nations to participate. How about European powers like Ireland and Poland. These nations are very competitive and would have a huge fan base in the States. These European powers would strengthen a 16 nation Gold Cup. Place these nations in a group with Mexico and USA. These nations would provide badly need competition for the top CONCACAF nations. It would allow the Gold Cup to expand to 16 nations. It would create a buzz. It would give a World Cup feel to the Gold Cup since the World Cup is based on corruption the USA may never get it again.. It would have international stars like Robbie Keane and quality international coaches like Giovanni Trapattoni participate.

How about just combining with CONMEBOL and take the big step…..a

Central American Cuo review

Central American Cup 2011

Ok, I have been absent from my blog duties and I am very sorry. The next favorite tournament I like next to the Gold Cup is the Central American Cup. This tournament is a step up from the Caribbean Cup since it does not last 3 months like the Caribbean Cup and the play is better for the most part. IT usually has bigger crowds and interest. As we know the top 5 qualify for the Gold Cup. This year’s tournament was played in Panama’s Rommell Stadium. I was a little disappointed at first with the attendance. Panama played a friendly against Costa Rica and over 30,000 were in attendance. I was thinking this same number would turn out to support their nation in the competitive Central American Cup. I was wrong the biggest crowd was only 20,000. Taking a closer look and with time to reflect I would have to say that soccer and the national teams are progressing slowly but steadily.

Like I said I was disappointed in the Panama fans. Only 10k turned out for the group game against El Salvador. Only a few hundred attended Belize and Nicaragua games. This is a shame no one in Panama supported their nation in the group stage. Shame on their fans. Only 10k turned out for the knock out game against the border rival Costa Rica. I guess they(the fans)though they were going to win the tournament and were waiting for the final. Well it serves them right. Their national team needed a full stadium but only 10k came to the Costa Rica game. Any national would be inspired playing in front of a passionate, full house to spur their team to victory. Panama fans abandoned their team when the team needed them the most. Their fans no not deserve the Championship. They (Panama) had 32k turn out for a friendly (Costa Rica) but only 10 for the Central American Cup. I do not know why but this is a reason why the Gold Cup will not be hosted in a Central American nation. No one is interested in other nations….including Panama. Honduras and El Salvador had much better turn out for their national team. 20k turned out for every group game in Tegucigalpa and 20k turned out for the one knockout game Honduras played. This was more that twice the attendance Panama produced.
First we have to congratulate Honduras for winning the tournament away from Home. Honduras won the hard group consisting of Costa Rica and Guatemala. They then proceeded to beat El Salvador 2:0 in the knockout round and Costa Rica in the final 2:1. It had been 15 years without this Championship. That is a long time for this nation to celebrate. No doubt that this national team came in confident after playing in the World Cup in South Africa. They took the experience of playing against the best in the world and applied their experience to win this tournament. After beating Costa Rica in the Hex and beating them again in the Central American Cup we can say they have overtaken Costa Rica as the top team in the region.

This is not only good for Honduras but good for the tournament and good for the region. Let me explain. Honduras becomes the 3rd different nation to win this tournament for the 3rd time in a row (Costa Rica 2007, Panama in 2009 Honduras in 2011). These 3 nations have created a little separation form the rest of Central America. This is a positive sign that none of this nation was the home team in the tournament they won. I am glad there were no outrageous calls and non calls favoring the home team that we see in other tournaments. Having 3 different Champions just make the nations more competitive against each other.

Costa Rica has again made the Championship game. The Tico’s are the most consistent team in the region. This makes 10 out of 11 tournaments they have made the final. The set the bar in the region and continue to be the team to beat. Every nation strives for the consistency Costa Rica displays. I think they would have had another Championship however a Tico was red carded during the final. The red card is the kiss of death for most teams. Costa Rica disappointment was Honduras’s elation.

El Salvador is defiantly a tier 2 team along with Guatemala in the region. They are fighting to make the top tier but are just not there yet. They beat the teams they were suppose to beat (Nicaragua, Belize) and lost to who they were suppose to lose to (Panama and Honduras). There is nothing to report here …hopefully they can field a good competitive team in the Gold Cup.

Guatemala is again a disappointment to me. They are a nation of over 14 Million (largest population) and still did not qualify for the knockout round. They use to make the final every year in the tournament. The made the tournament Championship game 5 times out of 11 (only winning one). Now they are struggling to make the knockout round. It is safe to say that Panama has taken their spot as one of the top 3 in the region. Guatemala has dipped to the second tier with El Salvador. Hopefully we will see a good team perform in the Gold Cup this summer. They certainly have the fans here in the states if they can produce a quality team…time will tell but I a not holding my breath.

Belize and Nicaragua. Ok these 2 nations are the 3rd Tier in the region. They are not that good or very deep. Neither has a strong domestic league. These nations use to be on lopsided games like Honduras 10-2 Nicaragua and Costa Rica 4:0 Belize in the 2001 event. Since 2003 these nations have been in the same group to avoid the discrepancy in play. Nicaragua finally made the Gold Cup in 2009 but Belize is still looking for their first win…this is patheric. Nicaragua has potential with the hiring of Spaniard Enrique Llena. Llena is managing the entire Nicaragua soccer operation (aka Sunan Galati for the USA). He oversees the soccer leagues, he set up a web site and I only now realize there are 3 tiers in the Nicaragua pyrament, he is involved in teaching the coaches how to coach everything. The federation is committed to make soccer the number 1 sport and over take baseball. I think it will take about 4 to 5 years when the youth teams develop some quality players….I hate waiting… but will haveto for Nicaragua.

Belize the only English speaking nation in Central America is struggling mightily to keep pace in the region. They are a nation of only 300,000 people. They have not won a game in this tournament ..EVER! They did beat St Kitt and Nevis in the opening round of WCQ 2010. They ended up playing Mexico and playing their home game in the states. They played in the states to get badly needed $ to run their federation. This did not sit well with the president of Belize and the riff between the Federation and politics widened. I do not see Belize getting anybetter quickly and I do not have much info on their domestic league. Just to say something positive for their fans... They have cool looking uniforms.

All in all it was good a different nation won the event. Panama did host the same event in 2003 and there was hardly a few hundred at each game. Now Panama is getting 10k for bigger games. I want to see a full house. Why on earth did the Federation spend 19 Million to remodel Rommell when they can not even sell out for this TOURNAMENT!!!!!!! Shame on their fans !!!!!! They should have invested 2 million on each little stadium around Panama to grow the sport.....Bad decision in my opinion. OK I am still a little upset at the lack of attendance.....

I just want CONCACAF nations to be more competative in the Gold Cup. My hope is having 5 quality teams from CA but I guess 3 will do.............