Outside of its own supporters, not many fans would have predicted Cuba to do as well as it did in the 2012 Caribbean Cup, especially after struggling through the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying with only one point and one goal in six games against Panama, Honduras and Canada. But the Lions of the Caribbean bounced back and surprised the field, not only qualifying for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, but earning their first-ever Caribbean Cup championship.
The Cubans made history by besting Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 after extra time in the final on Dec. 16. Marcel Hernandez scored off a 40-yard shot that beat goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams at the Antigua Recreation Ground in Antigua and Barbuda. Veteran goalkeeper Odelin Molina, who was steady throughout the entire tournament, was a rock in the net. Molina finished the tournament with three consecutive shutouts, while not surrendering a goal in 374 minutes.
Cuba’s next challenge will be to reach the Gold Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2003, when it was eliminated after a 5-0 loss to the United States. The Cubans also came close in the 2002 competition, conceding only one goal in two opening round games as Molina was stellar. They lost to the United States, 1-0, and played the Republic of Korea to a scoreless draw.
Cuba is riding an 11-game Gold Cup winless streak (0-1-10), dating back to a stunning 2-0 win over Canada in 2003.
|12||Goalie||Julio Ramos Pichardo|
|5||Defender||Jorge Luis Clavelo|
|13||Defender||Jorge Luis Corrales|
|9||Midfield||Jose Ciprian Alfonso|
|10||Forward||Miguel Angel Sanchez|