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Warriors draw Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba for 2015 Gold Cup

The “Soca Warriors” were presented with an excellent opportunity to qualify for the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup football tournament for the second successive edition today after the draw for the 2015 competition was made today in Philadelphia, USA.

The Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team were drawn in Group C with six-time Gold Cup champions, Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba and only one nation is certain of elimination. The group winner and runner-up is guaranteed a place in the Gold Cup quarterfinal while two of three third place teams also advance.

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates a win over Honduras during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago national football team celebrates a win over Honduras during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Mexico and Jamaica are both competing in the 2015 Copa America, which runs from June 11 to July 4 although the group stage ends on June 21. It is uncertain whether they will send weakened teams to the Gold Cup, which kicks off on July 7 with a double header at the Toyota Stadium, Dallas that pits Panama against Haiti and the United States against either Honduras or French Guiana.

Eight of the 12 participating nations in the 2015 Gold Cup will advance to the quarterfinals.

Arguably, the Warriors got the best possible draw.

Group A comprises of the United States, Panama, Haiti and either Honduras or French Guiana while Group B consists of Costa Rica, Jamaica, Canada and El Salvador.

At present, Trinidad and Tobago is CONCACAF’s fifth ranked team behind Costa Rica, Mexico, the United States and Panama respectively.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

However, Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart sounded a cautious note.

“This is the sixth Gold Cup I will be involved in,” Hart told the TTFA Media. “My experience is that on paper versus the field are two different matters. The group must be respected and is a tricky one, especially facing Mexico in the last game.”

The Warriors will kick off their campaign on Soldier Field, Chicago against Guatemala from 7 pm on July 9 before—as has become typical under Jeffrey Webb’s CONCACAF—setting off on a cross-country tour with fixtures in Phoenix against Cuba on July 12 and Charlotte against Mexico on July 15.

Hart believes Trinidad and Tobago’s opener against Guatemala will be key to their success while he revealed that he will use the Gold Cup as practice for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“The opening game is crucial, we must strive for consistency and get into the knock out phase,” said Hart. “It is important to prepare well and be in good moments individually and collectively. This is also part of the overall process of preparing for the 2018 World Cup qualification which begins for us in November.”

Trinidad and Tobago has never defeated Mexico at the Gold Cup and lost 4-2 and 4-0 at the 1998 and 2000 editions before a narrow 1-0 quarterfinal defeat against a second string Mexican outfit in the 2013 quarterfinals.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico's decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal. (Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams muses over Mexico’s decisive goal in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinal.
(Copyright Getty Images/AFP/ Mike Zarrilli)

However, it has been 24 years since Guatemala defeated the Warriors in a Gold Cup match. The Central American nation pulled off a surprise to edge Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in their first tournament meeting in 1991. But the two island republic shot down Guatemala 4-2 in 2000 while, even with a weakened team due to the 2006 World Cup blacklist, the Warriors managed a 1-1 tie in 2007.

Cuba and Trinidad and Tobago have never met at the Gold Cup although their recent battles at regional level have been close. Cuba edged the Warriors 1-0 in extra time in the 2012 Caribbean Cup final while they played to a goalless draw in the 2014 Caribbean Cup.

If Hart’s men advance past the group stage, they will then travel to either Baltimore on July 18 or New York on July 19 for quarterfinal action.

A third place finish in Group C might mean a clash with the Group A winners in Baltimore, which might mean facing either Panama or the United States. If the Warriors are second in Group C, they face the Group B runner-up which is likely to be either Jamaica or Canada.

In the unlikely event that Trinidad and Tobago pip Mexico to the Group C mantle, the Warriors will then tackle the third place team from either Group A or B, which would mean either Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Canada or El Salvador.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) in action against El Salvador in the 2013 Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Khaleem Hyland (centre) in action against El Salvador in the 2013 Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

Unlike the 2013 Gold Cup, which was held during the business end of the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifiers, the  confederation’s upcoming tournament is expected to generally showcase full strength teams as CONCACAF nations look for match practice in the build-up to their respective Russia 2018 campaigns.

The Warriors’ Gold Cup preparation starts on March 27 with a warm-up match against Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

“Between now and July, I will continue have a look at the best available players to make up our squad,” said Hart. “The Panama game this month will be ideal to provide an opportunity for potential players to fight for selection. Obviously I will continue to scout the leagues so the challenge for players is to strive for consistency.

“I expect the (Gold Cup) tournament to live up to its usual expectations and of course we will give every effort to ensure our performance is a solid one.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart takes questions during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup. (Courtesy CONCACAF)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago coach Stephen Hart takes questions during the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
(Courtesy CONCACAF)

2015 Gold Cup

Group A: United States, Panama, Haiti and Honduras or French Guiana;

Group B: Costa Rica, Jamaica, Canada and El Salvador;

Group C: Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and Cuba.

 

Group C schedule

(July 9)

Trinidad and Tobago vs Guatemala, 7 pm, Soldier Field, Chicago;

Mexico vs Cuba, 9.30 pm, Soldier Field, Chicago;

(July 12)

Trinidad and Tobago vs Cuba, 6.30 pm, University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix;

Guatemala vs Mexico, 9 pm, University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix;

(July 15)

Cuba vs Guatemala, 6 pm, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte;

Mexico vs Trinidad and Tobago, 8.30 pm, Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (second from left) runs at Antigua and Barbuda players (from left) Keiran Murtagh, Akeem Thomas and Quinton Griffith during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (second from left) runs at Antigua and Barbuda players (from left) Keiran Murtagh, Akeem Thomas and Quinton Griffith during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

CONCACAF  Gold Cup nations

FIFA ranking: 13. Costa Rica, 21. Mexico, 32. USA, 61. Panama, 63. Trinidad and Tobago, 76. Jamaica, 77. Haiti, 81. Honduras, 82. Guatemala, 89. El Salvador, 110. Cuba, 116. Canada.

*—French Guiana does not have a FIFA ranking since it is a territory of France.

 

Editor’s Note: Jamaica football fans and reporters were particularly hard-done by the bizarre 2015 Gold Cup schedule dreamed by CONCACAF president Jeffrey Webb and general secretary Enrique Sanz. The “Reggae Boyz” will play three group matches in Los Angeles, Houston and Toronto!

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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14 comments

  1. Makes no sense all that travelling for a short tournament

  2. Yes, but just trying to address what affects me

  3. But this has nothing to do with the Caribbean. It affects all teams and fans.

  4. There is no real interesst in the support of the Caribbean market in the US

  5. Jamaica plays in LA, Houston and Toronto. How retarded is that?! Do fans and reporters need two sets of visas to cover three group matches?

  6. i was watching that. unless you’re staying at a Motel 6…that gotta add up. and the booking headache is really stress

  7. The scheduling for the tournaments has been absolutely bizarre under Jeff Webb and Enrique Sanz. Before you might be grouped for your three games in one city or maybe something like Boston and New York.
    Now they fly you all over the country. There is even one or two games in Toronto!
    The coaches and players hate it and it is murder for journalists. I have covered the Gold Cup before but I really don’t know if I want to do it anymore with all those travel costs and swapping hotels.
    It is easier and more sensible to cover the actual World Cup with 32 teams than it is to cover the Gold Cup with just 12 teams!

  8. All are tough games but I wish them best

  9. I think we need Lasana Liburd to organize a group to go to the games Cherise d’Abadie….

  10. Hmmm…Ah studying to make that game.

  11. Tough group, but we have the talent… Just need proper preparations, cohesiveness, commitment…