Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

CONCACAF: Copa Centroamericana kicks off in Panama

Posted in North and Central American Football by peterbein on January 13, 2011

Copa Centroamericana logoThe Copa Centroamericana, a tournament for Central American nations, takes place in Panama starting Friday. With five places up for grabs in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup seven countries will take part in the 11th edition of the Centroamericana, which was previously known as the UNCAF Nations Cup, in the hope of qualifying for the main competition, to be held in the United States this June. Panama are the defending champions having won their maiden title in Honduras two years ago against Costa Rica in a final decided on penalties following a goalless draw. Can they hold on to the trophy or will any of the other six contenders go all the way? Stoppage Time – International Football Blog previews the tournament:

GROUP A (Belize; El Salvador; Nicaragua; Panama)

BELIZE: The Jaguars will have their work cut out to qualify from the group as they are undoubtedly the weakest team amongst the four in Group A. Belize have never qualified for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in their history and finished bottom of Group A in the previous tournament which eliminated them instantly from the 2009 competition. FIFA World Ranking = 173

EL SALVADOR: The best that El Salvador have ever done in this competition is third place on three occasions (1997, 2001, 2003). Two years ago they could only manage fourth place having lost to Costa Rica in the semi-finals and Honduras in the 3rd/4th play-off and will be keen to get to their first final but will find the going tough once again beyond the group stage. FIFA World Ranking = 116

NICARAGUA: Not expected to trouble the leading lights in this tournament but would like to emulate the feat of two years ago when they won the 5th/6th play-off defeating Guatemala 2-0 to qualify for their first ever CONCACAF Gold Cup. This is probably the best they can hope for in this year’s tournament. FIFA World Ranking = 157

PANAMA: The hosts and defending champions will be hoping to regain the title won in 2009 but will face a stern challenge from the likes of Costa Rica and Honduras for the trophy. Have improved in recent years and have the second highest FIFA ranking of the teams in the tournament. FIFA World Ranking = 67

Panama Copa Centroamericana

Panama are the defending champions in this competition

GROUP B (Costa Rica; Guatemala; Honduras)

COSTA RICA: Record champions with six titles to their name (1991, 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007) Costa Rica only lost out on a seventh title in 2009 due to a penalty shoot-out and los Ticos are determined to get their crown back. Will definitely reach the semi-finals only a mixture of quality and luck will determine whether they make it lucky seven. FIFA World Ranking = 69

GUATEMALA: Champions for the one and only time back in 2001 Guatemala reached the final in the following tournament but have failed to reach it since. In 2009 Los Chapines lost in the 5th/6th play-off and failed to make it to the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time since 1993. They expect better luck this time and hope for a minimum 5th place finish to get over the disappointment of two years ago. FIFA World Ranking = 117

HONDURAS: Two-time champions in 1993 and 1995 Honduras have only reached the final one time since those glory days with a losing appearance in 2005. The country hosted the 2009 UNCAF Nations Cup, the last time it was played under that name, and were knocked out in the semi-finals by eventual champions Panama. FIFA World Ranking = 56

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