French Guiana head coach Jair Karam (pictured) answers questions during a CONCACAF Gold Cup media event on March 7, 2017, in Santa Clara, California, USA. (Photo: Howard Smith/isiphotos)
SANTA CLARA, California – Two teams will be making their first-ever appearances in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, when the tournament kicks off on July 7. Curacao is one of those… the other is French Guiana, a side that is already acquainted with one of its opponents in the 2017 edition.
Two years ago, the French Guianese missed out on a Gold Cup berth after it fell 4-3 on aggregate to Honduras in a two-game playoff. The northern South American squad won the first leg at home 3-1, but dropped a 3-0 decision on the road in San Pedro Sula.
Not only did both French Guiana and Honduras qualify for the upcoming Gold Cup without the burden of a playoff, they – coincidentally – will meet again on July 11 in Houston. Canada (July 7) and Costa Rica (July 14) will provide opposition in the other two Group A matches.
“We’ve played against Honduras in the past, so we’re familiar with them,” said head coach Jair Karam. “We’re going to work on Canada and Costa Rica. They’re really good teams. They have great experience at this level.”
In order to qualify for the Gold Cup, French Guiana reached the semifinals of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup, which will be played in June. In three rounds of play thus far, it has posted an overall record of 4W-0D-2L, scoring 14 goals and conceding six.
Since French Guiana is not a member of FIFA, the Gold Cup represents the biggest competition in which it’s eligible to participate.
Karam wants to capitalize on the opportunity.
“We will adapt and make sure that we get the best team possible,” he finished. “We’re still the underdog. Now everything happens on the field. It’s ours to show that we can level up to these great teams.
“If we got to this level of the competition, it means that we have the qualities. We’re going to focus on us and what we need to do with a great deal of determination because our objective is to advance to the quarterfinals.”