The second day of action in North, Central America and the Caribbean’s first group stage of qualifying for Brazil 2014 gets underway on Tuesday. The big-name quartet of Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Canada and Haiti will all be eager to pick up where they left off, all of them winning out in last week's opening matchday. Join FIFA.com for a look ahead.
The big game
Group E’s only game on Tuesday will pit surprise side Belize against a more traditional Central American demi-power: Guatemala. The Belizeans, who were forced to play a pre-qualifier against Montserrat due to their low ranking, look a side on the up. Friday's win over Grenada on the road highlighted some of their best points: speed up the flanks, power, a fine goalkeeper in Shane Orio and a tricky winger in Deon McCauley. The Guatemalans, however, are unlikely to be impressed as their 4-0 hammering of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was a fine example of why the Chapines have come so close to reaching the FIFA World Cup™ in the recent past.
The best of the rest
Group A toppers El Salvador hit the road to take on the Cayman Islands hoping for a better performance than they put on in San Salvador on Friday when they laboured to a surprisingly difficult 3-2 win. Suriname, who opened with victory against the Caymans, will have their work cut out as Domingo Hernandez’s Dominica look a side not to be trifled with.
Trinidad and Tobago also begin their travels with a trip to take on Barbados in Bridgetown. Otto Pfister’s Soca Warriors only just edged out Bermuda at home last week and are eager to get things right against the Barbadians, who looked feeble in a 2-0 loss to Guyana in their first contest. Bermuda will have a chance to pick up their first points of the campaign when they take on the Guyanese in Group B’s other game.
Panama begin their Group C account on Tuesday with a road test against fellow Central American outfit Nicaragua, who opened last week with a confident 2-0 win over minnows Dominica. Fresh off a run to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the Panamanians are heavy favourites to top this section, which contains only three teams following the withdrawal of the Bahamas.
Group D leaders Canada face a tricky test in Bayamon against a much-improved Puerto Rico. Local media criticised the Canucks after their opening win over St. Lucia, but the 4-1 win will have the men from the Great White North fancying their chances of a result against the Puerto Ricans, who earned a point in a goalless draw with St. Kitts and Nevis in Basseterre on Friday. The section’s other game sees an all-Caribbean meeting as St. Lucia hosts St. Kitts.
Haiti began their Group F adventure with the biggest win of the opening matchday, a 6-0 rout of the US Virgin Islands in Port au Prince. The 1974 FIFA World Cup participants are keen to keep up that form this week when they take to the road to meet Curacao, who were mauled by Antigua and Barbuda in their opener. The Antiguans, led by veteran striker Peter Byers, will also be hoping to up the tempo when they travel to take on lightweights US Virgin Islands.
Player to watch - Josh Simpson (CAN)
Canada did not have things all their own way in Toronto against the St. Lucians, requiring a bit of inspiration in the form of Turkey-based midfielder Josh Simpson – a veteran of all levels of the Canadian national team set-up. Even with stars like Julian De Guzman and Dwayne De Rosario out on the pitch, Simpson was the true standout performer, poking holes and looking up for a fight. His two goals also helped tip the scales on a night that may well begin Canada’s return to the FIFA World Cup, a feat they achieved only once, in 1986.
What they said
“Our win against Bermuda was our first official game in nine months [of not playing]. We won, we didn’t concede and we got three points. We also hit the post twice and had many opportunities. The next game [against Puerto Rico] will be totally different,” Trinidad and Tobago boss Otto Pfister explains the nervy nature of Friday’s slim win over Bermuda.
CONCACAF Second Round, Matchday Two
US Virgin Islands-Antigua and Barbuda
Barbados-Trinidad and Tobago
St. Lucia-St. Kitts and Nevis
Cayman Islands-El Salvador
Have your say
Will there be any shocks or surprise results on Matchday 2 or will all go according to script?