CFU: Caribbean Cup 2010 Preview
After seven rounds of qualifying the tournament proper in the Digicel Caribbean Cup begins on Friday with eight teams hoping to reach the semi-finals at the very least. Reaching the last four will allow those teams lucky enough to do so to qualify for next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and, more importantly, be in with a great chance of winning the cup, which looks like the UEFA Europa League trophy, won last time by the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica in 2008. Stoppage Time – International Football Blog looks forward to the tournament.
Martinique is the host nation and the national team is hoping to emulate their only title success in this tournament which came in 1993, when they beat Jamaica on penalties following a disappointing final. Trinidad & Tobago, who easily topped their qualifying group, are the favourites to finish first in Group H and the hosts will be expected to take second spot. Cuba just came top of their qualifying group and they hope to reach the semi-finals like they did in the 2008 tournament, where they were unfortunate to lose in a penalty shoot-out to losing finalists Guadeloupe. The fourth team in Group H are Grenada, second in their qualifying group behind Guadeloupe, and they hope to go one better than two years ago where they lost 2-0 to Jamaica in the final.
FIFA World Rankings: Trinidad & Tobago 78; Grenada 91; Cuba 94; Martinique N/A
Defending champions Jamaica, who won the 2008 tournament under the stewardship of ex-Liverpool and England star John Barnes, are the favourites to retain their title in this year’s competition. The Jamaican squad is the only one in the tournament with a significant proportion of the players featuring for clubs outside their homeland, the majority earning a living in the United States Major League. Guadeloupe have finished fourth and third in the last two tournaments and will hope to improve on that record but they will be taken all the way in the race for the top two by Guyana who stand only four places below the Jamaicans in the FIFA World Rankings but who have only ever reached the top four in this tournament once before in 1991. Antigua & Barbuda finished on level points with Cuba in their qualifying group and they, like Guyana, have also only ever featured in the semi-finals on one occasion, all the way back in 1998 and the signs are that they’re not going to improve on that record this time around.
FIFA World Rankings: Jamaica 82; Guyana 86; Antigua and Barbuda 115; Guadeloupe N/A
The top two teams in each group will meet in the semi-finals on Friday, December 3rd. The tournament final will be played just two days later on Sunday, December 5th. All four semi-finalists will qualify for the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.