El Salvador are far and away the cream of the group and will likely run roughshod over Suriname, Dominican Republic and the tiny Cayman Islands. The Estadio Cuscatlan in San Salvador is an intimidating venue for even the big nations of the CONCACAF zone, and the Central Americans’ panache on the pitch will make it even tougher for the hopeful trio of minnows.
Central American demi-powers and twice FIFA World Cup™ finalists El Salvador lead the pack in North, Central America and Caribbean Round 2 Group A. With top-tier talent throughout the team like Rudis Corrales and Eliseo Quintanilla, wily coach Ruben Israel even managed to guide his Cuscatlecos to within a whisker of the semi-finals of the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States.
Suriname: Tucked away on the north eastern tip of South America, Suriname has a history of producing fine players, as Dutch standouts Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf clearly indicate. Keeping these talents at home to line up for the national team is another matter, but veteran striker Clifton Sandvliet and Giovanni Drenthe will both be hoping now is the time for these sleeping giants of the CONCACAF zone.
Dominican Republic: Echoing the progress of their neighbors Puerto Rico and Haiti, the Dominican Republic are hoping they can ally recent improvements to a little bit of luck and challenge for first place in the section. A 6-0 aggregate success over Anguilla in the previous round has the country, usually obsessed with baseball, hoping for more of the same on the football field.
Players to watch
Rudis Corrales, Eliseo Quintanilla, Rodolfo Zelaya (SLV), Clifton Sandvliet (SUR), Jonathan Fana (DOM), Marshall Forbes (CAY)
The crunch match
El Salvador are rampaging favourites in the section, but Suriname have the kind of raw talent that could possibly upset the apple cart. Travel to Paramaribo is not exactly the most direct and the jungle outpost is a hot and steamy place to play, especially against a highly motivated home side looking to make history.
A look back
El Salvador 6-0 Suriname, 1 January 1968, San Salvador
Only 1-0 at the half, the Salvadorans came flying back with five unanswered strikes in the second period to help move their way closer to a first world finals appearance at Mexico 1970. Since then, the first meeting between the two teams, El Salvador have won six of seven, only losing once in Paramaribo later in 1968.
1 – the number of the teams from the group that have ever reached a FIFA World Cup finals. El Salvador went to the biggest show in the football world on two occasions, in 1970 and 1982. Their 10-1 loss to Hungary in Spain 29 years ago was a record scoreline for the finals and a dubious distinction for the Central Americans.
Did you know?
Suriname has produced some of the best players in Dutch history. Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids, Ruud Gullit, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Frank Rijkaard and Aron Winter are just some of the stars who were either born in or draw their bloodlines back to the steamy equatorial outpost.
Have your say
Can El Salvador weather the challenge from their minnow group-mates, or will Suriname, Dominican Republic or the Cayman Islands make a little noise?