With 16 thrilling encounters to go, the final eight teams that make up the Digicel Caribbean Cup Groups H and I all have high hopes of making it into the top four. Here, www.digicelfootball.com takes a closer look at the Group teams and their chances of a place in the final.
The two Groups are fairly evenly matched with hosts Martinique facing their first matches of the tournament in Group H against Trinidad & Tobago, Cuba and Grenada. The host team will be looking to get to the semi-final at least – but will need to hit the ground running to do so. The French colony will rely largely on home-based talent to see them through and they must be prepared to deal with the issue of not having played any competitive matches thus far which may prove a disadvantage in terms of guaranteeing a place in the top four.
Martinique will kick off their tournament on Friday next when they face Grenada. The Spice Boys’ second-place finish in the 2008 Digicel Caribbean Cup gave Grenada its first qualification to a major international competition – that being the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup – and they will be looking to recreate history this year.
Also a contender for the top four is Cuba. Cuba has a long-standing football tradition and this year’s team play a very impressive brand of football and look very lively going forward. Their style obviously has some Spanish influence and they will be looking to win a place in the Gold Cup for the eight time.
The fourth team making up Group H is favourites, Trinidad & Tobago. The Soca Warriors steamrolled their Group at home with outstanding performances from striker, Devon Jorsling, who scored five of Trinidad’s nine goals in three matches. He will be a player to watch in the remainder of the tournament, and if they can patch up some defensive frailties, Trinidad & Tobago will have a good chance of being named Digicel Caribbean Cup champions 2010.
So far, with a total of 39 matches played, 143 goals scored and an average of 4750 spectators per match, the Digicel Caribbean Cup 2010 has become the biggest year of the tournament so far. However, Guyana – now in Group I – is the only team in the final eight who have seen off seven other nations to make it through stages one and two. The Golden Jaguars will not be short of tournament practice and the competitive matches will stand to them. They came into their first Group in Suriname stating their objective was to make it to the finals and they have achieved this. However, sceptics might question whether or not they will have the skill and mental toughness to step up to the next level.
Guadeloupe – who looked very strong in their Group – come through to the finals with an unbeaten record and a number of comprehensive victories. Playing close to home in Martinique may go in their favour as they will definitely be eyeing a spot in the semi-finals and would enjoy a meeting against hosts and local rivals, Martinique.
Group G runners-up, Antigua & Barbuda, got through at home by managing to get the right result when needed – despite some nervous moments. They are strong and athletic but will need to step up a level if they are going to progress past the Group I teams.
Current champions, Jamaica, have to be one of the favourites of the tournament. Although they haven’t played any competitive matches in the tournament as yet, they have had some friendlies whilst training in Florida. The Reggae Boyz have been the most consistent performers in Caribbean football in recent years and it will be a major shock if they do not proceed to at least the semi-finals.
The final matches will be aired on FOX Television in North America and throughout the Caribbean; the finals will be aired live on free to air TV and radio.