The qualification phase – stage one and two – of the Digicel Caribbean Cup came to a close on Sunday marking a break in the tournament before the final kick off on November 26th in host country, Martinique.
So far, a total of 39 matches have been played, 143 goals conceded, an average of 4750 spectators per match and a record-breaking win for the Dominican Republic with 17-0 against the British Virgin Islands.
However, even 17 goals were not enough to see them through. In fact, of the eight teams that are now through to the finals, only one team – Guyana – have come through from stage one. The Golden Jaguars faced seven Caribbean sides – topping Group C in Suriname and coming second place behind hosts Trinidad & Tobago in Group F. Overall, they have won five of seven games, lost one and drew 0-0 against a disappointing Haiti. As a result, Guyana are now ranked number 86 in the FIFA world rankings – their highest position ever. In addition, the Golden Jaguars are ranked number two in the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) rankings – beating Trinidad & Tobago.
Digicel Group Head of Sponsorship, Karl Donnelly, said; “We’ve witnessed some excellent displays of the beautiful game since the tournament kicked off in October. With that, many teams – such as Guyana – have jumped up the leader board in the CFU rankings as well as in the FIFA world rankings which is fantastic for the countries and the players themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing even more exciting football as we head into the final eight.”
Guyana will now face Guadeloupe, Antigua & Barbuda and current champions, Jamaica, in Group I which kicks off on Saturday, November 27th 2010. Guadeloupe head into the final stage with an unbeaten record from Group E, having defeated Grenada 3-0, Puerto Rico 3-2 and St. Kitts & Nevis 2-1. Two 0-0 draws against Cuba and Dominica and a 2-1 win over Suriname were enough to put Antigua & Barbuda through following an exciting Group G held in the Antigua Recreation Grounds in St. John’s.
Hosts, Martinique, take on Grenada, Cuba and former champions Trinidad & Tobago in Group H. It is 11 years since the Soca Warriors were Caribbean champions and their unbeaten run in Group F means they are one to watch for the title this year. Latapy’s side thrashed Haiti 4-0, St. Vincent & the Grenadines 6-2 and Guyana 2-1 in the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium. Grenada and Cuba both enjoyed a solid progression from their respective Groups E and G.
The winners and runners-up of Groups H and I will go forward to play in the semi-finals on Friday, December 3rd in the Pierre Aliker Stadium in Martinique. The Champions of the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010 will be decided when the final takes place on Sunday, December 5th – also in the Pierre Aliker Stadium.
The final matches will be aired live on free to air TV and radio while Groups H and I will be aired on a delayed basis.