CFU: Guyana, Dominica and Suriname through; Caymans miss out
The CFU Digicel Caribbean Cup has completed its first stage of qualifying rounds following the conclusion of Groups C & D over the weekend. There would be celebrations for Guyana and Dominica, who both topped their respective groups, whilst Suriname went through as one of two ‘best’ runners-up in the group stages. This meant that the Cayman Islands, who were second in Group A, had to miss out on progression.
Group C of qualifying was played in Suriname, the former Dutch colony in the north of Latin America, and the home side were hoping to top the group in front of an expectant home support. However the group was to be a two horse race between the hosts and Guyana, who are just four places above Suriname in the current FIFA World Rankings list, and with both teams facing each other in the last game of the group it would prove to be a tight finish. Both teams won their fixtures against group opponents the Netherlands Antilles and Saint Lucia which set-up a decider on Sunday.
In front of a crowd just under 3,000 Suriname took the game to their opponents but the visitors drew first blood following Walter Moore’s successful penalty-kick on 17 minutes after Dwain Jacobs was brought down in the box. The match wouldn’t be truly settled until second half stoppage time, however, as Devon Millington scored the goal which decided the match and the group in Guyana’s favour. Nonetheless the home side would be celebrating too as their six points in the table were enough to take them above Saint Vincent (5 points) and the Cayman Islands (4) in the runners-up table. With two spots available for those teams finishing second Suriname and St. Vincent have further participation in the second stage of qualifying to look forward to whilst the Cayman Islands lose out altogether.
Three countries – Dominica, Dominican Republic and British Virgin Islands – were the last teams to fulfil their fixtures in the first stage of qualifying. The British Virgin Islands were well and truly battered by their two opponents losing by a combined score of 27-0 (yes, that’s twenty-seven!!) with the Dominican Republic scoring seventeen of them. This set-up a winner-takes-all clash between the big two of Group D and, in front of a crowd of six hundred hardy souls in Estadio Panamericano in the city of San Cristóbal, home team Dominican Republic fell flat in front of their home supporters. Dominica scored the only goal of the game through Elmond Derrick’s header from a corner with nineteen minutes of the game remaining and they held out in order to seal progression into the next phase of qualifying.
The second stage of qualifying will bring further challenges to those who have worked their way through the first stage. In the next stage there are three groups of four teams and the top two from each group will join official tournament hosts Martinique and defending champions Jamaica in the competition proper from November 26th. Here are the three second stage qualifying groups with official FIFA World Rankings positions in brackets:
GROUP E: Grenada (128); Guadeloupe (N/A); Puerto Rico (170); St Kitts & Nevis (151)
GROUP F: Guyana (120); Haiti (joint 123); St. Vincent & The Grenadines (153); Trinidad & Tobago (97)
GROUP G: Antigua & Barbuda (joint 123); Cuba (113); Dominica (178); Suriname (137)