Group Stage on the line in Gold Cup Prelims deciders
The 2023 Gold Cup Prelims will conclude on Tuesday at the DRV PNK Stadium with three more matches between the winners of last week’s first-round affairs. The three victors will proceed to the Gold Cup group stage where they will join the other 13 teams that qualified directly.
Guadeloupe vs Guyana
Guadeloupe were the most impressive looking team on the field during the opening round, soaring past Antigua and Barbuda with a 5-0 victory. Guyana, on the other hand, battled tooth and nail to edge past Grenada in a penalty shootout.
Guadeloupe received goals from five different players and controlled their match from start to finish. Matthias Phaeton didn’t get his goal until the 93rd minute, but was excellent off the bench and notched an assist as well.
Les Gwada Boys are now looking to advance to the group stage for the fifth time, and second consecutive time.
Omari Glasgow scored the big goal for Guyana in their win, a thunderous bouncer from well outside the penalty area. The 19-year-old is such a dynamic player and has been able to create chances from thin air during his international career so far.
GK Kai McKenzie-Lyle was solid in goal and made a huge save in the penalty shootout to give the Golden Jaguars the edge.
A win for Guyana would send them to the group stage for just the second time ever, following an appearance in 2019 when they finished third in their group.
The winner of this match will be placed into Group D alongside Canada, Guatemala, and Cuba.
Martinique vs Puerto Rico
Martinique won their first match against Saint Lucia 3-1, in what proved to be a solid test of their mettle. Two late goals saw them surge into the second round. Meanwhile, Puerto Rico eliminated Suriname on penalties after playing well in a 0-0 draw.
For Martinique, Brighton Labeau was excellent throughout their opening match, and had a fantastic finish in the second half when he reached back to score on a cross that looked like it would go well behind him. Enrick Reuperne also deserves praise for a pair of assists off the bench.
If Martinique win, it will be their eighth group stage appearance and fourth straight overall. Their best ever finish at the Gold Cup was a run to the 2002 quarterfinals where they lost to Canada on penalties.
Puerto Rico played out a scoreless draw with Suriname, but they were hardly parking the bus. It was a back-and-forth game in which the newcomers looked just as capable as their League A opposition.
It’s not often to see a match in which two goalkeepers on the same side have great days, but that’s what happened on Saturday for Puerto Rico. Back-up goalkeeper Sebastian Cutler was the hero, having been inserted into the match just before the penalty shootout and coming up big.
Certainly, Cutler’s presence will loom large if this match remains tied as the 90th minute approaches. And starting goalkeeper Joel Serrano was perhaps just as important, with two huge saves in regulation to keep Suriname off the board.
A Puerto Rico win would see El Huracan Azul reach the group stage for the very first time.
The winner of this game will move on to Group C where they will join the Central American trio of Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador.
Saint Kitts and Nevis vs French Guiana
Saint Kitts and Nevis impressed in their first-round match against Curacao; a dramatic late equalizer from Tyquan Terrell put them into a penalty shootout during which GK Julani Archibald stepped up with some big saves. French Guiana had a more straightforward time, defeating Sint Maarten 4-1 thanks largely to Arnold Abelinti’s big day.
The Sugar Boyz trailed Curacao early and looked to be on their way out but rebounded brilliantly in the second half to fight their way back into the match. Archibald was excellent throughout, including in the shootout by recording two saves. Tiquanny Williams, who assisted the goal, had a fine game up front as well.
French Guiana took the lead early in their match against Sint Maarten courtesy of an Abelinti penalty, but then showed their true ability in the way they responded to being knocked down.
When Chovanie Amatkarijo equalized for Sint Maarten in the 40th minute, Les Yana Dokos could have let the momentum get away from them. Instead, they responded by retaking the lead just four minutes later, and came out of the halftime break with their foot on the gas, extending the lead again in the 49th minute.
Abelinti finished with two goals and two assists, a rare double-double, in what was the best individual performance of the first preliminary round.
If Saint Kitts and Nevis advance, it would be their debut appearance in the Gold Cup group stage. If French Guiana win, it will be their second appearance; the first was in 2017.
The victor of this match will join the United States, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago in Group A. (Concacaf)