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CONCACAF Gold Cup Preview: Group A

With the Gold Cup beginning tomorrow, Goal.com brings you a preview of each group in the tournament, starting with the tricky first group.

Jul 2, 2009 11:22:54 AM

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Rodrigo Kenton - Costa Rica (Mexsport)

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By Shane Evans

Arguably the toughest of the three groups, Group A boasts four very competitive teams from the CONCACAF region. Highlighted by a surging Costa Rica side who sit atop the group in hexagonal round qualifying for next summer’s World Cup, the Ticos appear to be the favorites to escape the group.

Between the four teams, there are 33 appearances in the tournament, with Canada the only team to have ever won the modern incarnation of it, back in 2000. Costa Rica had one the previously named CONCACAF Championship on three occasions (1963, 1969, 1989).

Play kicks off on July third as all four teams are in action as Canada will play Jamaica and Costa Rica are set to square off with El Salvador.


Gold Cup Appearances: 9 (1991, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009)

Gold Cup Titles: 1 (2000)

Top Finish: Champions (2000)

Key Players

D Paul Staleri (Borussia Monchengladbach)

F Ali Gerba (Toronto FC)

M Atiba Hutchinson (Copenhagen)

Update: In their last two fixtures Canada has done well, beating Cyprus and Guatemala by a combined score of 4-0. Two goals from Ali Gerba against Guatemala only last week have showed that the forward is back in form and will be a goal-scoring threat in the tournament. Before those two matches though, Canada has been a bit of a mess. Their inability to reach the hexagonal round was a huge disappointment for the team and caused them to change their coach.

Outlook: If the Canadians get off to a good start and put some goals in the net, things could work out well and qualification for the next stage could be possible. Group A does include three other tricky teams and Canada will be hard-pressed to advance if they don’t put in a set of top notch performances.

Costa Rica

Gold Cup Appearances: 9 (1991, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009)

Gold Cup Titles: 0

Best Finish: Finalist (2002)

Key Players

M Walter Centeno (Saprissa)

F Alvaro Saborio (Sion)

F Andy Furtado (Marathon)

Update: Currently holding down first place in the hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying, Costa Rica are still buoyed by their impressive victory over the United States back in early June. Following that victory, they were able to knock off Trinidad & Tobago and a path to next summer’s World Cup seems quite clear. They’ll be fielding one of their stronger sides in the tournament and should do quite well against the inferior teams in their group.

Outlook: Things are looking good for Costa Rica at the moment and their confidence is riding high. Not only are they the favorites to win their group, they have to be up there with the favorites of the entire tournament and if they start stringing wins together, the rest of the competition’s entrants best be wary.

El Salvador

Gold Cup Appearances: 6 (1996, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2009)

Gold Cup Titles: 0

Best Finish: Quarterfinals (2002, 2003)

Key Players

D Alfredo Pacheco (New York Red Bulls)

F Rudis Corrales (C.D. Aguila)

M Eliseo Quintanilla (Ermis Aradippou)

Update: It’s been an up and down last few months for the El Salvadorians. A loss to Costa Rica in WCQ back in April was followed by an impressive 3-1 friendly victory over Ecuador and then a 0-0 tie with fellow Group A members Jamaica. From there they welcomed CONCACAF giants Mexico to Estadio Cuscatlan and beat them 2-1. Shortly after they fell victim to a dominating Honduras side that controlled the entire match in a 1-0 win.

Outlook: El Salvador have every chance of advancing from this group into the next round. Quality players up and down the pitch help, but an opening match against Costa Rica won’t be easy. If they can scrape a point from that match, they could take that confidence and do very well in the remaining two against Canada and Jamaica.


Gold Cup Appearances: 7 (1991, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009)

Gold Cup Titles: 0

Best Finish: Third (1993)

Key Players

D Ian Goodison (Tranmere Rovers)

D Ricardo Gardner (Bolton Wanderers)

F Ricardo Fuller (Stoke City)

Update: Surprisingly, Jamaica is on an extremely impressive unbeaten run at the moment and could be considered sleepers to make noise in the group. Having not lost since September of last year, 13 matches ago, The Reggae Boyz are experiencing a fine vein of form. Included in that run was their fourth Caribbean Championship when they beat Grenada 2-0 late last year. With plenty of players putting the ball in the net, the Jamaicans will be dangerous.

Outlook: The confidence is there and so are the goals. Add in that they’ve only allowed five goals in their last eight matches proves that the defense is holding it’s weight as well. Having said that, this is a very difficult group and they may run into problems, especially if they have to play from behind. The potential is there though, and advancement to the next round isn’t totally out of the question.

Predicted Finish

1. Costa Rica

2. El Salvador

3. Jamaica

4. Canada

Shane Evans is an Associate Editor of Goal.com

Visit Goal.com for more coverage of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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The joke is the article itself. Look at the spelling "Costa Rica had one the previously named CONCACAF Championship on three occasions ".

How can you not put De Guzman as a key player? Canada is so underrated because of these dumb FIFA rankings hahah.

"Quality players up and down the pitch help, but an opening match against Costa Rica won’t be easy." talking about El Salvador? And Canada gets no "talent" credit...

No one ever mentions that "Canada needs to focus and use their superior talent to beat so and so" because that is the case here. Our team is just as talented as any in the group. Two years ago we out classed Costa Rica talent wise CLEARLY and with a squad missing a lot of the guys who are here this time.

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I doubt they actually know much about any of the players that will be suiting up for us. Goal.com is very touch and go, they either do their homework or they, as in this case, don't put in any effort at all. If we don't move on to the knockout phase I will be VERY disappointed.

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I wouldn't worry too much what this person has to say. Not only does he screw up De Guzman as one of our key players, but he also has 37 year old Ian Goodison as a key player for Jamaica and Furtado as a key player for Costa Rica.

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Gold Cup Appearances: 9 (1991, 1993, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009)

Gold Cup Titles: 1 (2000)

Top Finish: Champions (2000)

they also forgot that Canada was:

Champions: 2000

Third Place: 2002

Semi-finalist: 2007

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Let me say in a moment of immodesty that my preview on the new test site www.cansoc.org was much better than this. And for all time funniest previews is this one I saw on bigsoccer.com before the tourney started:

"Group A Preview:

Canada vs Jamaica

The curtain raiser for the tournament should be an exciting affair as the 2000 champions Canada take on Jamaica. After 13 games unbeaten, stretching back to September last year the Reggae Boyz will be feeling in confident mood – especially as one of those 13 matches was a 3-0 thrashing of the Canucks in a World Cup Qualifier.

A good match for a start to the Gold Cup

Jamaican Players to watch out for:

• Ricardo Gardner (Bolton Wanderers)

• Jermaine Johnson (Sheffield Wednesday)

• Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Barnsley)

• Marlon King (Wigan Athletic)

• Ricardo Fuller (Stoke City)

My Prediction: Canada 0 -3 Jamaica"

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I'm often shocked at how lazy sports writers can be. Don't bother checking if that 3-0 thrashing was totally meaningless and featured a Canadian experimental C team or not, just predict it will happen again instead.

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