After a rain-soaked night in Fort Lauderdale, the final three spots of the CONCACAF Gold Cup have been clinched. Despite multiple weather delays, all three qualifiers took place, with the final match — Saint Kitts and Nevis versus French Guiana — finishing after midnight.
However, there’s not much time for celebration or for rest. Saint Kitts and Nevis play their first match on Sunday, Martinique has their first match on Monday, and Guadeloupe plays on Tuesday. A quick turnaround following some very exciting matches. Here’s how they booked their spots in the tournament.
Guadeloupe 2-0 Guyana
Just 15 minutes into the match, both teams were led off the field due to the bad weather. After a delay that lasted over an hour, the match resumed, and Guadeloupe took control. Three minutes after the restart, a cross was deflected first by Elliot Bonds and then by Guyana’s Liam Gordon to make it 1-0 to Guadeloupe.
Guadeloupe midfielder Jordan Leborgne missed a big chance to make it 2-0 after Matthias Phaëton’s shot was parried into the middle of the box, but he could only send it wide of the gaping net. Guyana’s goalkeeper Kai McKenzie-Lyle made some good saves to keep it at 1-0 at the half.
Guadeloupe doubled the score in the 57th minute thanks to a great free kick from Andreaw Gravillon. It was his first international goal, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Down two goals, Guyana pushed forward and Guadeloupe looked threatening with counter-attacks, but neither team found the back of the net again and it ended 2-0. Guadeloupe will make its fifth-ever Gold Cup appearance.
Martinique 2-0 Puerto Rico
Unlike the first match of the day, a decent crowd showed up to watch Puerto Rico and Martinique. Puerto Rican goalkeeper Joel Serrano was at the center of things early on, making some clutch saves inside the first ten minutes.
The game was back and forth, with both sides committing their share of fouls — by the end of the half, Martinique had four yellow cards and Puerto Rico had one. In the 39th minute, Martinique’s Patrick Burner thought he earned a penalty kick, only to receive a yellow for simulation. Puerto Rico’s Gerald Díaz had the best chance of the half when his shot toward the far post was pushed wide in the 43rd minute.
In the 52nd minute, Martinique took the lead thanks to a looping header from Brighton Labeau. A few minutes later, Labeau had a 1v1 with Serrano, but Serrano slid in to deny the striker. Puerto Rico created more chances later in the second half, with striker Ricardo Rivera whiffing on a good chance. Martinique defender Jonathan Rivierez almost headed the ball into his own net, but goalkeeper Yannis Clementia made a good save to keep his side ahead.
In the 86th minute, Puerto Rico’s Juan O’Neill picked up a red card, basically confirming Martinique’s win. Martinique almost made it 2-0, but Serrano denied Ronny Labonne with a foot save. The game was delayed because of lightning, then restarted. With everyone forward (goalkeeper included), Martinique countered and Kevin Fortune scored a late goal on the empty net. They will play in the Gold Cup for the eighth time.
Saint Kitts and Nevis (4) 1-1 (2) French Guiana
French Guiana created several chances early into the match, but they struggled to place shots on goal. Then, in following the path of the other two matches, the game was abandoned after 27 minutes because of a weather delay.
The match was restarted with heavy rain, and Saint Kitts and Nevis started to take control. French Guiana’s goalkeeper Donovan Léon was forced to make several saves, but, in the 40th minute, Tiquanny Williams opened the scoring. Léon had made the initial save, but Williams was waiting to put the rebound in and make it 1-0 to Saint Kitts and Nevis. Despite the late hour, some fans were there to celebrate the strike. The game went into the half at 1-0.
The Sugar Boyz almost doubled their lead right after the half, with Jacob Hazel’s header hitting the post. However, shortly after, in the 51st minute, a cross bounced onto the arm of Saint Kitts defender Gerard Williams, resulting in a penalty kick for French Guiana. Arnold Abelinti converted to make it 1-1, celebrating with the most half-hearted griddy you’ll ever see. A big tackle from Saint Kitts defender Raheem Somersall in his own box in the 92nd minute kept the match equal.
The game advanced to penalties, with French Guiana missing their second and fourth penalties. Saint Kitts and Nevis converted all four, clinching their spot in the Gold Cup group stage for the first time.
Image Courtesy of Brand Marketing team of CONCACAF and creative design agency Thirsty., CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.