Cuba have destiny in their hands
Paul Clarke, Gleaner Writer
Western Bureau:Defending Carib-bean Cup cham-pions Cuba made sure they too are in with a chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup next year, by edging Curaçao 3-2 Thursday night in Montego Bay and in the process, set up a top-of-the-table showdown against Group A leaders Trinidad and Tobago this evening at 8 o'clock.
Trinidad, courtesy of their 4-2 win over French Guiana in midweek lead the standings with six points. Cuba are next on four points and can overtake the Soca Warriors with a win and a place in Tuesday's final, while French Guiana (1) and Curaçao (0) complete Group A.
Now, having qualified early to play in the Gold Cup, Stephen Hart, the Trinidad head coach can focus his players on recapturing the Caribbean Cup title that they have won a record eight times.
He knows a matchup against Cuba will be no easy task, especially as his defence has been a little circumspect in recent matches, something he admitted will have to be fixed if they are to top the group.
"We have been scoring goals and that is always important, but we are not keeping them out either, and we know that against Cuba we have to be tight in defence," Hart said.
"We have been leaking a little bit but French Guiana kept coming at us and we lost our composure, so it's a matter of concentration and we need to get it right before we meet Cuba," added Hart.
The Soca Warriors conceded two second half goals against 10-man French Guiana, but went on to win the match 4-2, thanks to a brace from their outstanding forward Kevin Molino and a goal each from Ataulla Guerra and Lester Peltier. Molino is leading the race for the golden boot with his three goals so far.
"We will need to be more composed against Cuba as in our last game we should have won by a bigger margin, as we created a number of good chances," Hart said.
A win for Cuba get them back into the title-deciding match and their coach Walter Benitez is aware of this.
Against Curaçao, the cham-pions showed grit and determination to get the three points, and will line up against the Soca Warriors needing a victory and nothing less, to take them into the final and also a place in the Gold Cup.
The top four teams in the Caribbean Cup qualify directly to the 2015 Gold Cup, and the team finishing in fifth place, will take the play-off route against the fifth place finisher in the 2014 Copa Centroamericana Tournament.
French Guiana still have something to play for and will be slightly favoured to take three points from Curaçao in the opening match at 5:30 p.m.
Neither team has had a great deal of luck, and play a similar sort of game, but with a win a necessity, the odds of a draw are high in this one.