Friday, November 25, 2011

        Panama was the top team going in and the Canaleros did not disappoint their fans. Panama has been on an upswing since 2005 when they made the Gold Cup final. Panama’s only close game was away in Nicaragua. Panama scored 15 goals for and only let in 2. One of the goals was on own goal. Panama is poised to make a good run in the Semi-finals. They will be grouped with regional rival Honduras, Cuba and group D Champion Canada. This semi-final group should be the tightest contested with all 4 teams.

Nicaragua was the last place team in Pot 3 however they beat Dominica (Pot 2) twice in this World Cup qualifying cycle. I believe they would have beaten Bahamas twice also to treat their growing fans base in Managua. Nicaragua play Panama to a 1-2 loss in Managua. 10,500 fans showed for this game which was a great crowd. Only 2,000 showed for the Dominica game after Nicaragua was already out of the competition. Nicaragua is growing slowly. Their next chance to prove themselves will be the Central American Cup in 2012. They quite possibly could host this event.

Dominica was a big disappointment. They were ranked much higher than Nicaragua but were exposed in this qualifying cycle. Dominica lost all 4 games and did not score a goal.

Bahamas was an embarrassment not only to themselves but to CONCACAF also.

     Canada was the team to beat and they proved that by averaging 3 goals a game and only letting in 1. They played with poise and they also got points when they were not on their game. The Canucks have been complaining for years about the lack of commitment the federation showed the team over the years. The team could not get together and play because of the lack of funds. Canada would always have good players but would lost in World Cup Qualifying and Gold Cup since they did not prepare like the USA and Mexico could. Well now Canada has 6 games in 2011 and they will have 6 games in 2012 to get a cohesive team together. They have MLS MVP in DeRosario. They are also in a semi-final group that does not have USA or Mexico. Canada will face Honduras, Panama and Cuba. F their was a year for Canada to make the Hex this is the year.

       I have been waiting since 2007 for Puerto Rico to emerge in the Caribbean. This World Cup cycle was good for this island. They placed 2nd ahead of both Saint Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia. The Blue Hurricanes only lost 1 game to Canada but is was a home game. Puerto Rico started to put things together as the tournament went along. Their top scorer was 6’1” Hector Ramos with 4 goals. He now plays for the Puerto Rico Islanders. He is only 21 but he developed his skills in the Puerto Rico soccer league. Puerto Rico is coached by Costa Rican Jeaustin Campos and he was hired for the long term gain for the sport. Campos has a young team and they should make some noise in the Caribbean Cup 2013.

Saint Kitts an Nevis only has about 52,000 in it’s population but they seem to produce a quality team for their size. They too only lost 1 game. They are presently looking to host the Caribbean Cup 2013.

Saint Lucia did not win but kept pace in this group.

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