Friday, July 8, 2016

Caribean Cup 3rd Round predictions.

Caribbean Cup 3rd round
Oct 3rd, 6th and 9th
With the Copa America 2016  in the books…the next tournament is scheduled the 2017 Gold Cup. Unless it gets canceled. With that being said…….it is never to late to start thinking about this nice little tournament, where the USA gets to feel good about their program and play well against the minnows. The top 4 Central American nations automatically qualify and the top 4 Caribbean
nations also qualify (Along with USA, Mex and Canada). The Last tournament 2015 Gold Cup there were no new nations. French Guiana almost participated but lost in a playoff to Honduras.  The 2017 Gold cup will have at least one brand new participant which will come from the Caribbean nations. (Every country in Central America has already participated. Nicaragua  (2009) and  Belize (2013) have already participated once.)

The Caribbean Cup places the top 4 in the Gold Cup. The last 12 are broken into 4 groups of 3. The winner of these groups automatically qualify for the Gold cup. (There will be a “new” team participating for the 2017 Gold Cup, which will be exciting.) They also advance to the  knockout round for the Caribbean Cup. Old guards Jamaica and Tridnidad and Tobago are your favorites.
Group 1
  1. Jamaica
  2. Guyana
  3. Suriname
This group has the reigning champions Jamaica. They won the Caribbean Cup 3 of the last 4 tournaments. Jamaica reached the final for the 2015 Gold Cu. I see Jamaica progressing here. There are 2 quality  South American nations in Guyana and Suriname ready to prove their worth. Guyana is good at home…pounding US Virgina Isl 7-0 in the last round. Suriname also got by St Vincent's in the previous round to advance.

Group 2

  1. Haiti
  2. French Guiana
  3. St Kitts
This group has Haiti who had the bye to this round because of their ranking. Haiti has placed in the top 4 the last 2 Cups. Haiti is also, one of only 5 teams to win the Caribbean Cup. Haiti will be challenged by both French Guiana and Saint Kitts. French Guiana topped past pesky Bermuda in both the first and second rounds. They also knocked out regional power Cuba in round 1 in a surprise. St Kitts beat both Suriname and St Vincent's to advance posting shutouts in both games.

Group 3

  1. Antigua and Barbuda
  2. Puerto Rico
  3. Curacao
There are no teams who got a bye in this group. This group will place a team directly into the Gold Cup 2017. One of these nations will be making their debut in the Gold Cup 2017. I was only hoping for Puerto Rico since they have a larger population and probably would have many more fans at Gold Cup games. However I hope for a team that is fundamentally sound that can contend with the elite of CONCACAF to emerge. Antigua and Barbuda and Puerto Rico were also matched up in an earlier round 2. It took Puerto Rico Extra added time to beat both Grenada and A&B. Antigua and Barbuda however pounded Grenada 5-1 at home. Curacao received the top seed and will have the extra days rest, Curacao has the two leading scores of the tournament. The 2 massive strikers in 6’1”Gino van Kessell and  6’2” Felitciano Zschusschen both were born in the Netherlands and play in Europe. Curacao (Dutch nation) already beat Guyana 5-2, then went on and pounded US Virginan Isl 7-0 in the previous round. They are my favorite to advance here.

Group 4 preview
  1. Trinidad and Tobago
  2. Dominican Republic
  3. Martinique
   This group is like a World Cup group in the diversity of languages. T&T speak English, Dominican Republic speak Spanish and Martinique speak French. I have to say I use to hate T&T but that was because of the corrupt thief Jack Warner. T&T has won the most Caribbean Cup with 8 –however they have hosted the most with 8. Now I enjoy T&T play the beautiful game. They have big athletic players who play a tactically sound game. They are your favorites here in this group. The Dominican Republic has the 2nd highest population in the Caribbean with over 10 Million; only behind Cuba. CONCACAF wants Dominican Republic in the tournament for fan and tv viewership interest. . Dominican Republic also has many people living in the states. I would love to see them come out and cheer their team for the Gold Cup. The Dominican REp beat both Bermuda and French Guiana which is impressive. The question is,,,can they beat the perennial power of T&T in T&T.? Martinique has participated in 4 Gold Cups, making it the 5th best in the Caribbean.  So don’t count this French Island out of anything. Martinique islanders are no doubt very proud of France reaching the final of the EURO 2016 Cup. This is one tough little group to get through.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Caribbean Cup 2016

                This tournament will again act as a qualifier for the 2017 Gold Cup. The top 4 teams will get a bids to the tournament while the 5th place nation will enter into a playoff game against the 5th place Central American Cup finalist. This playoff is a great idea in the fact it creates more interest between the 2 regions.
                The Draw: 4 teams were given byes (T&T, Jamaica, Haiti and St Vincent and the Grenadines)
The first round :  The odd thing about the draw was that Group 1 has the 3 highest ranked teams (that did not get byes) A&B , St Kitts and Aruba in the same group.  A&B is in the drivers seat with a 1-0 over Aruba. However anything could happen here with these teams.
Group 2: Grenada should cruise to an easy win here over US Virgin Islands and lowly Sint Maarten. Anything else will be a big upset.

Group 3: Another  quality group with Caribbean power Cuba, the rich Bermuda nation and the South American participant French Guiana. Cuba has the advantage with one win Bermuda in Havana.                            Unfortunately for Cuba they have to travel to South America for their leg.  We could see a changing of the guards here.
Group 4: Dominican Republic, Barbados and Curacao. Ugggg. Barbados have been producing quality teams these last fee cycles, Playing the yanks in the last World Cuip qualification. Curacao (formally Netherlands Antilles) has that Dutch mentality and show technically sound teams. Barbados slipped by the Dutch island 1-0 and lead this group. Dominican Republic has the huge population of about 8 million and would make thing interesting if they could get this population behind their team.
Group 5 The South American nation of Guyana should battle Puerto Rico for top spot and both should get bye Anguilla. Nothing to report here. Hopefully Puerto Rico can incorporate their domestic team Puerto Rico inlanders players on the team and create interest on this heavly populated island.
Group 6 Both Guadeloupe and Suriname will beat Saint Martin.
Group 7 Martinique and Dominica will both get by British Virgin Islands. It is just a matter of who win the group.

The secnd round is where and when things get interesting.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Panama will host the next Central American Cup

UNCAF Copa Centroamericana logo.png

         The next Central American Cup will be held in Panama --Surprise - Surprise Surprise!
As you can see it is Guatemala's turn to host. Guatemala has not hosted since 2005 and Panama recently hosted in 2011. 

Costa Rica
Costa Rica
El Salvador
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
Costa Rica
United States
Costa Rica

              It seems that Panama's economy, influence and bid "package" was able to influence the bid committee.
          Neither Nicaragua nor Belize has ever host this regional tournament. If I was going to guess I thought it would be either Nicaragua or Belize. Then I would have had odds that Guatemala, El Salvador then Honduras would be next in line to host in that order. So what happened to "who's turn is it?"
Rommell Stadium  has had major renovations for the 2011 tournament. The Stadium now has a nice looking roof for many fans. The last Central American Cup Rommell hosted all the games. I don't see any change here.

The tournament will be 17–28 January 2017.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Canada should play in the Central American Cup


The Central American Cup is lacking since it only has 7 nations playing in this nice little tournament.  7 nations create an odd group of only 3 nations. The group needs a 4th team to complete the group. I believe the Central American Cup should invite Canada to participate. This would finally complete the odd group. The odd group always created an advantage for the winners of that group. The winners, who advance only have to play 2 group games as opposed to 3 group games for the other group. Adding a 8th nation would create 2 groups of 4 teams and making for a nicer tournament.  This idea is good for Canada since they would get more competitive games, good for the Central American participants since they get an extra Gold Cup chance and extra competitive games and good for the tournament since it will complete the odd group of 3 and provide 2 brackets and draw more interest and excitement.

 Canada should offer their guaranteed Gold Cup slot as bait. Presently the CA Cup places the 4 top teams in the Gold Cup. The 5th place team (Honduras ) plays the 5th Caribbean Cup (French Guiana) team for the last spot. If Canada offered their spot, CA Cup would place the 5 top teams from the tournament directly into the Gold Cup.  
The tournament could have the top 2 teams in each group earn 4 slots for the Gold Cup. They would play in a knockout round for the Central American Championship so nothing would change here. The bottom 4 teams would also play in their own  knockout round. This is the huge added advantage of having 8 teams in this tournament. Every game becomes crucial. Group A 3rd plays Group B’s 4th place and Group B’s 3rd place plays Group a’s 4th place finisher. The 2 winners of the consolation knockout play each other for the last guaranteed spot. The Champion of this bracket now have something to play for. The winner receives Canada's guarantee Gold Cup spot. This creates so much more interest for this bracket. 
The loser of this consolation round would still get to play the 5th place Caribbean nations for the last spot for the Gold Cup. This will not change.

Good for Central American Teams
The arrangement would guarantee at least 4 competitive games for every nation which is badly needed in CONCACAF. The 4 teams would get 5 competitive games, and the other 4 team are guaranteed 4 competitive games.  Presently there are only 12 matches. Adding Canada would increase the total matches to 18 competitive games. The loser of the 3 team group only get to play 3  games and the nations fans are left empty. They have to wait 2 more years for this tournament. The loser of the 4 team group also only get to play 3 competitive group  games and does not participate in the 5th  place finish game. These less talented teams (Nicaragua, Belize and whoever) needs more games to get better. Adding an 8th nation would provide these badly needed games.
The top teams will not have a negative effect since they will still play in the knock out rounds, still get their guaranteed 4 spots for the Gold Cup and still crown a Champion for this regional tournament. I think if the Gold Cup and CONMEBOL Championship can add teams to increase the tournament then the Central American Cup should also. 

Good for Canada
            First of all Canada badly needs competitive national team games, especially before the Gold Cup. They just do not get enough. Playing in another tournament to warm up for the Gold Cup is a great idea. Playing against teams that are about your equal is even better. The Central American Cup is a perfect tournament that meet both these needs.  These teams are great with the soccer ball at their feet. They do not panic with the ball and are skillful dribblers. Canada was bigger, faster and more athletic however they need this type of competition to sharpen their skills. This tournament would provide 4 to 5 very competitive games that mean something. Friendlies against Iceland, Moldova and Bulgaria are just not the same.  

            As for the Gold Cup, Canada shouldn't just get an automatic bid; they should have to qualify for it. Entering the CA Cup would solve this issue. Canada did not advance out of the group stage in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Gold Cup’s. This left Canada with only 3 competitive games for the year, for their national team. The 2009 Gold Cup was only one better they advanced but lost in the opening game of the knockout round, thus playing in only 4 competitive games. This give the Canadian faithful an empty feeling after only watching your national team play only 3 games. The Canadian fans had to wait 2 more years only to see their team fail yet again. The Central American Cup would be a great measuring stick as to how far your nation has advanced. t 
         The teams in the Central American Cup are almost the same teams they face in the Gold Cup. Playing in the Central American Cup as a guest would provide the Canadian faithful with a nice competitive tournament before the Gold Cup. Since Canada doesn't make the World Cup, a tournament like this would do great to raise the interest of the sport in Canada and improve the national team. Qualifying for the Gold Cup would draw more interest to the Canadian national team. 
            I think Canada should offer their guaranteed slot to the Central American Cup to entice the nations (tournament) to invite them.  As for those of you who say this is crazy, why miss out on the Gold Cup….I say if Canada cannot get at least 5th place in the Central American  Cup then they don’t deserve to go anyway.

This is how things could work. The top 2 teams in each group get the coveted 4 Gold Cups spots. These top 4 teams then play in the Championship knockout rounds, just like it is now. Tjhe winner is the Central American Champion.

Group A
Group B
Costa Rica
El Slavador
              Lets say Costa Rica, Panama, Canada and Belize are in group A and finish that way. Costa Rica and Panama make the knockout round. Group B of Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua finish this way. Honduras and Guatemala  proceed to the Championship knockout rounds. These 4 nations will get the 4 guaranteed spots for the Gold Cup. So nothing new here. 

What will be different and better; will be the bottom 4 teams will enter their own MEANINGFUL knockout rounds.  The winner will get Canada's automatic spot for the Gold Cup. The bottom 4 teams enter their own knockout round for Canada’s extra Gold Cup spot. Here is an example. Canada will play Nicaragua and El Salvador will play Belize and the winners play each other for the Canada's automatic spot.
This way all nations in this tournament will play a minimum of 4 competitive games and the 4 others will  get to play 5 competitive games. This increases competitive games for all most every team for this tournament. 

            Lets now say Nicaragua hosted the next tournament. Nicaragua would still have the fans at the games since they would be fighting for the last Gold Cup spot. This would or should increase attendance and interest to ANY host nation and their fans even if they don't participate in the Championship bracket. 

Bad for Canada: Not really

Now let's  Canada doesn't win the final of the losers bracket. They still have a chance to play in the Gold Cup by qualifying for the Central American v Caribbean playoff spot.  They would do this by losing in the Championship of the losers bracket.  This now would give Canada 5 competitive games in the Central American Cup and 2 more games in the playoff against the Caribbean nation 5th place finisher. Qualifying this way would be the best of all cases for Canada. Why?
Well First of all if Canada can not place in the top 4 of the Central American Cup, nor make the final of the losers bracket then you can be assured they could be losing these games in the Gold Cup against better competition. say! i make a good point but why is it the best. IT become the best since Canada would maximize their competitive games in the Central American Cup with 5 games and then have the huge advantage of playing 2 more games against a quality Caribbean nation like Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana or even Dominican Republic. This would give Canada 7 quality, confidence building games leading up to the Gold Cup. This would give the Canadian team such a huge advantage to work as a cohesive team and finally advance out of the group stage of the regional tournament. 

The worse case is Canada doesn't qualify as a top 4 Central American participant and lose the losers bracket against lowly Belize or Nicaragua. I don't think Canada would have advanced in the Gold Cup (only 3 games). So Canada would still play one more competitive game this year. That is the worse case. 
Every other scenario Canada benefits and that is why they should offer their automatic Gold Cup spot as bait to play in the Central American Cup.