Thursday, March 24, 2011

CONCACAF U-20 Championship; Guatemala

CONCACAF Under-20 Championship will start this Monday in Guatemala. This years edition has expanded from 8 nations to 12 nations. This is good news since more national teams can play and develop their young teams. There will be 12 nations broken up into 4 groups of 3 teams. So every game is important. Only the winners of each group will hake the knockout round. The final 4 nations left will represent CONCACAF in the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA World Cup will take place later this summer in Columbia. This gives the Central American teams a real desire to play so close to home. This will give each nation something to shoot for besides the Championship.

The games will take place in two stadiums located in Guatemala City. Estadio Meteo Flores (Municipal) and Estadio Cementos Progresso (Communicationes). Estadio Meteo Flores that holds 30,000 will host Group A (Guatemala, Honduras and Jamaica) and Group B (USA, Panama and Suriname). While the smaller Stadium Progresso hold 18,000 spectators. These are the 2 of the nicest stadiums in Guatemala. Guatemala has recently hosted the Womans U-20 Championship as a kind of trial run for this tournament. That tournament only had 8 teams playing in Estadio Cementos Progresso.

Estadio Flores (30,000)
Group A Guatemala did not have to qualify so it is hard to tell how good they will be. However playing at home I will say they are the slight favorites. Honduras won it’s Central American Group of El Salvador and Belize. They have a great rivaly with Guatemala. Jamaica pounded it’s Caribbean opponents have a + 20 goal differential. They are the Champs of the Caribbean and want to advance to Columbia. This s the most balanced group since any team can win without a big surprise.

Group B has the giant USA. They are the favorites since they have had their team practicing longer than any other team. Panama will want desperatly to advance to the World Cup. This World Cup is in their neighbor Country of Columbia.

Estadio Cementos Progresso
The other 2 group will play at the smaller Estadio Cementos Progreso. This stadium hold 18,000 but it is a great Central American Stadium. The stadium recently has renovations and it has a nice grass pitch.

Group C
Will have (Canada, Costa Rica and Guadeloupe) It seems the youth teams are the same senior teams that make the Gold Cup. I say the toss up between Canada and Costa Rica. Costa Rica is the reigning Championship and will not want to relinquish this status in the group stage. Canada believe their youth teams have advanced as fast and as far as thier senior team. This will be another dog fight.

Group D will feature (Mexico, Cuba and T&T). The question is how much Mexico will win bye.

I see USA and Mexico go to the FIFA World Cup. The question is who will the other 2 be. Costa Rica vs Canada winner goes and Jamaica v Honduras winner. Yes I am contradicting myself since I said Guatemala is the favorite of the group.

The good news is that a CONCACAF tournament is hosted in a country besides the USA. This will hopefully make the sport more attractive in Central America. Hosting anything is great for your country since all the nations will be focused on their team at this time.


Lorric said...

I hate the three team groups. There is a high probability of ties. The coin toss that seperated Jamaica from Trinidad and Tobago at the U17 tournament basically decided which if those two was getting to go to the U17 World Cup. It woul be even worse to have such a coin toss for two teams tied for 2nd. Also, imagine if two teams knew if they tied, they'd be tied for first place, and squeeze out the other team who'd already played their 2 games...

3 team groups stink. Why they can't go to a Gold Cup style format I don't know. You get 12 teams, but 4 only play 2 games, and another 4 only play the same number of games they would play in an 8 team tournament.

I also see Group A as easily the most balanced. Highly unpredictable.

Group B, USA could deliver a tremendous beating to Suriname in the opener. Panama should walk past Suriname too.

Group C is the weakest group. I'm guessing you didn't look at Costa Rica in qualifying. They shouldn't even be here. El Salvador eliminated them in a playoff after Panama topped Costa Rica's qualifying group. But thanks to a paperwork mix up, which lead to El Salvador accidentally fielding an ineligable player, El Salvador were ejected from the tournament, and Costa Rica got in the back door. Guadeloupe barely scraped into the tournament out of what was surely the weakest group, with the advantage of knowing what they had to do on the final day and playing a team already eliminated (3 team groups SUCK.) and Canada, despite their auto-qualifications are weak in these tournaments.

Group D Mexico should win the group, and I think whoever survives out of the two caribbean nations can not be counted out to spring an "upset" and defeat the winner of Group C.

Lorric said...

I also want to call attention to Canada's unjustified top seeding to go along with their automatic qualification, setting up the weak group C. The U17 tournament, Canada were originally top seeded, but there was a meeting, and Honduras were put in their place. Canada should not be top seeded, but will probably win the group due to the weak opponents, and have a hell of a chance of putting both their youth teams through to World Cups.

Lorric said...

Now that I think about it, there's a very good chance Panama could defeat anybody in Group A and get to the U20 World Cup. Panama qualified to 3 of the last 4 U20 World Cups.