- A new day has dawned in Curacao as legendary Dutch manager Guus Hiddink is now at the reins of the island nation.
- In the mix is Guatemala, who dominated their group in League C of the 2019-20 CNL.
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enjoyed a good performance in the last Concacaf WCQ cycle.
- After a disappointing 2019 in the Gold Cup and CNL, Cuba will hope to bounce back.
- The four games will also represent a fantastic opportunity for British Virgin Islands to gain more international experience
MIAMI, Florida – Group C of the First Round of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying has no shortage of interesting storylines, as Curacao, Guatemala, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and British Virgin Islands get set for battle.
A new day has dawned in Curacao as legendary Dutch manager Guus Hiddink is now at the reins of the island nation. The former PSV Eindhoven, Real Madrid and Chelsea boss guides a team that has some of the best talent in the region and earned a quarterfinal finish at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup.
GK Eloy Room, DF Cuco Martina and MF Leandro Bacuna are among the heralded names that Hiddink will manage, but overall records of 0W-2L and 0W-2D-1L records versus Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Cuba, respectively, show that Curacao will have their work cut out for them.
Also in the mix is Guatemala, who dominated their group in League C of the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League with a 4W-0L record and outscoring opponents 25-0.
The Chapines are led by one of the youngest and brightest coaches in the region in Amarini Villatoro, who is bringing a fresh, new approach to a nation that is hungry to reach a first ever FIFA World Cup
“Nowadays in football there are no easy opponents, all of the national teams, especially in a qualifier, give their all. A World Cup Qualifier is so different than a friendly match, for what the player feels and experiences. That’s what is so wonderful about football. Nothing is written, anything can happen. We respect all of the teams in the group, we will plan to go match by match. We have Cuba first, which won’t be easy. It’s our first game and it opens this qualifying group. We hope to do well and get a positive result at home,” said Villatoro in a recent interview with Concacaf.com.
Since 2014, Guatemala have posted 4-0 and 9-3 wins over Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and own a 3W-1L record against Cuba in that span, yet that lone loss came in a crucial 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup group stage finale that eliminated Guatemala from the tournament.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enjoyed a good performance in the last Concacaf WCQ cycle when they reached the Fourth Round and will look to stymie opponents with a defense that conceded just four goals in six matches during the 2019-20 Concacaf Nations League. An overall record of 3W-1D-0L record against group opponents British Virgin Islands should also provide confidence.
After a disappointing 2019 in the Gold Cup and CNL, Cuba will hope to bounce back and try to show the same form they displayed in CNL Qualifying (3W-1L) when they kick off WCQ. With a slew of Cuban players plying their trade overseas, MF Arichel Hernandez is hopeful that Cuba will be able to use all of their weapons.
“Personally, I’m very excited about it and my teammates and I are all anxious to play these games. I feel like we have a solid team for these qualifiers, if we are able to use players who are outside of the island in other very good professional leagues. They would bring us a lot of support,” said Hernandez in a recent interview with Concacaf.
The four games will also represent a fantastic opportunity for British Virgin Islands to gain more international experience, in particular for FW Tyler Forbes. The 18-year-old is one of the rising stars in the Caribbean and scored three goals during the 2019-20 CNL, including a brace versus Bonaire.
With so many different factors in play, it is anyone’s guess who will able to emerge from Group C.