Thursday, October 13, 2011
Round 2 Update
Dominican Republic will not advance. They had an opportunity to win at home against El Salvador but lost in the 67 minute from a strike by Blanco (El Salvador). The Dominican Republic has been getting better as this qualifying tournament has progressed. The Dominican Republic won their first game against Suriname and that game was in South America. This was a big accomplishment for this growing Caribbean nation. The last 2 games are against lowly Cayman Islands. It is too bad the Dominican Republic did not open with the Cayman Islands to get some momentum. The best the Dominican can do is win their last 2 games and could quite possibly pass Suriname in the standings.
Group B The Caribbean group
Like we stated at the beginning this group would be determined in the last 2 games against Guyana and T&T and we were right. The surprise is that Guyana leads the group with 10 points at this time. The South American nation has not lost a game yet. Their only blemish was a 1-1 tie to Bermuda in Bermuda. The big clash will be Nov 11th and 15th when Guyana meets Trinidad and Tobago to see who goes through the round 3.Another surprise was the steady and consistent play from Bermuda. Bermuda has tied Guyana 1-1 and beat T&T in it last 2 games. However even if Bermuda sweeps Barbados in the last 2 game it will not be enough to see them through. Barbados has not scored yet.
Group C Panama’s through!
This was Panama group until The Bahamas dropped out. We all assumed Panama was the strongest nation in the Second round. However the story was Bahamas dropping out of the tournament. The Chinese government built a beautiful new national stadium to could host these games. However the lack of responsibility, professionalism and commonsense was lacking in the Bahamas. The government could not finish the project which were minor details compared to the entire project. Panama has already won this group. Panama is the first nations to advance from Round 2. They will be place with Honduras, Cuba and the winner of Canada’s group. This will be a great group to watch. Nicaragua is in second place with 2 points. Nicaragua first home game had 10,846 spectators. This was a record for Nicaragua. We will see how many show against Dominica Nov 15th with no chance to advance. The Dominica was overrated going in and were exposed in this qualifying process.
Group D Canada’s Group
Well Canada has a comfortable lead with 10 points to 6 points for St Kitts. Canada should wrap this group up in the next game against St Kitts. Canada will then be placed in the Semi-final group w/ Honduras, Cuba, Panama and Canada. Canada is benefiting greatly with this Round 2 qualification. This qualification allowed team Canada to play together to form a bond and cohesive play. Canada always had good players but the “team” game was lacking. Never before did Canada have this benefit and the Canucks will be formidable in the next round.
Puerto Rico has had the surprise result so far, they tied Canada in Canada 0-0. I still believe that Puerto Rico will be the 2nd place team in this group. Hopefully this will have a positive light on soccer in this small country of close to 4 Million people. Puerto Rico will play cellar dweller St Lucia in the last 2 games.
Group E Guatemala Dominates
This group started as Guatemala’s group and Guatemala has dominated so far. Guatemala has a perfect record 4-0. Guatemala has also had 21 thousand at it second home game. They are by far at the top in attendance in Round 2. While the Caribbean have a few thousand fans Guatemala and El Salvador bring in over 20k per game. Belize has 2 games left against lowly St Vincent’s. The Central American nations can now justify why they are allotted 5 spots in the Gold Cup and the Caribbean only 4. Grenada was the highest ranked team in this group and so far has been a disappointment. Grenada finishes with 2 games against Guatemala. This is their last chance to justify their high rank or we could see them tumble in the FIFA ranking.
Group F The November clash (A&B or T&T)
This group was made up entirely of Caribbean nations. I picked Antigua and Barbuda as the upset of the groups. (not a far stretch) Presently they lead the group w/ 12 points. Haiti is a close second with 10 points. These 2 team will meet Nov 11th and Nov 15th. This group should go down to the last game in Port-au-Prince. Haiti attendance had 12,000 and 7,800 for their 2 home games. They have the highest attendance of any Caribbean nation.
This clash in November will feature leading scores in the region. Peter Byers (A&B)has a whopping 8 goals. His teammates Tamarley Thomas has 5 goals and Randolph Burton has 4 goals. Haiti will counter with Jean-Eudes Maurice who has tallied 5 goals. I am hoping Haiti can overcome the 2 point defecit and advance to the semi-finals.