Copa Centroamericana opens Friday

The Estadio Rommel Fernandez (pictured) in Panama City, Panama, will host the entire Copa Centroamericana, which will be played from January 13-22, 2017. (Photo: Luis Licona/Straffon Images)

PANAMA CITY, Panama – With the motivation of claiming Central American superiority and a spot in this year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 14th Copa Centroamericana kicks off Friday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.

All the action launches with the six teams participating in a tripleheader:

Friday – January 13, 2017 (all times ET & local)

  • Honduras v Nicaragua, 4:00 p.m.
  • Costa Rica v El Salvador, 6:30 p.m.
  • Panama v Belize, 9:00 p.m.

Since its inaugural edition in 1991, the Copa Centroamericana has served as the championship for the region’s national teams and as a CONCACAF Gold Cup qualifying competition.

It has been contested on 13 occasions within the borders of an affiliated member association, except for 2014, when it was played in the United States to celebrate the Central American Football Union’s 25th anniversary.

Costa Rica is the two-time defending champion, lifting the trophy a record eight times. Honduras is next with three titles, while Guatemala and Panama have won one apiece.

The 2017 edition will be played entirely at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama, using a round-robin, single-table format. Each of the top four finishers will qualify directly to the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, while the fifth-place team will participate in a two-match playoff against Haiti – winner of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean fifth-place playoff -- in order to determine the event's 12th and last berth.

Due to a FIFA’s suspension of the Federación Nacional de Fútbol de Guatemala, the Guatemala national team will not be taking part in the event.

Once the opening whistle blows, Panama (2003, 2011) will equal Costa Rica (1991, 1999, 2013) and Honduras (1993, 2001, 2009) as the countries hosting the most Copa Centroamericana tournaments at three apiece.