Group F is entirely made up of teams from the Caribbean, although the conformity ends there, with the nations involved boasting a wide variety of languages, traditions and football styles. The strong favourites on paper are Haiti, although fast-improving Antigua and Barbuda will do their best to gatecrash the party. Curacao have the potential to pose a few problems to the other sides in the section, while the US Virgin Islands will be intent on making history once again.
Les Grenadiers are, by some distance, the team with the greatest pedigree in the group, which makes them the outstanding favourites to finish top. Despite that, their recent form has been patchy; their elimination at the group stage of the 2010 Caribbean Cup prevented them from taking part in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June. In addition, due to the devastating earthquake that hit the country, the Haitians have had to play their recent home matches in Miami, in the United States.
Antigua and Barbuda: If there is a Caribbean team that has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, it is Antigua and Barbuda. Rowan Benjamin’s charges made the football community in the region sit up and take notice by narrowly missing out on the semi-finals of last year’s Caribbean Cup, during which they achieved a memorable victory over Guyana. If they continue to improve at the same rate, another surprise is not out of the question.
Players to watch
Jean-Marc Alexandre (HAI), Mikele Leigertwood (ATG)
The crunch match
Antigua and Barbuda-Haiti
The Haitians will be odds-on favourites to claim all three points, but the dual island nation will fancy their chances of creating an upset, which should result in an exciting and decisive encounter.
A look back
Although Curacao’s national team have fallen by the wayside in recent times, they have a rich tradition in CONCACAF competition. They have come across Haiti on their route on many occasions, the most important of which was during the final qualifying round for the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ in Germany. In a game played in Port-au-Prince, the home side overcame some stiff resistance from the visitors before eventually triumphing 3-0.
Did you know?
Never before had the US Virgin Islands managed to get through the preliminary round of the North, Central America and Caribbean Zone, but by emerging victorious from their tie with the British Virgin Islands, they created a little bit of history for themselves.
Have your say
Could Antigua and Barbuda spring a surprise on group favourites Haiti?