Favourites Canada, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti all picked up predictable wins in the first group stage of North, Central American and Caribbean qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Join FIFA.com for a look at all the Friday-night action around the New World.
Match of the day
Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 Bermuda
Group B favourites and Caribbean powers Trinidad and Tobago, led by new German coach Otto Pfister, had their hands full on home soil at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. Up against Caribbean neighbours Bermuda, the Soca Warriors, on paper at least, should have had an easy day. However, the 2006 FIFA World Cup participants met stiff resistance from skipper Khano Smith and the rest of the Bermudans, who defended stoutly and were unlucky not to escape with a point for their efforts. The only difference on the day was a goal from T&T’s Stoke City striker and newly named captain Kenwyne Jones who blasted home a volley on the stroke of halftime. Bolstered by their positive performance, Bermuda will surely fancy their chances in the return leg at the National Stadium in Hamilton, the very same venue where they shocked Trinidad and Tobago 2-1 in South Africa 2010 qualifying.
In other action
Suriname opened their Group A account with a steady, if unexciting, 1-0 win over the Cayman Islands at home in Paramaribo. Long-time coach Kenneth Jaliens had scorer Friso Mando to thank for the three-point haul, but the gaffer will certainly be hoping for much better in the contests to come. Two-time World Cup finalists El Salvador endured quite a scare before beating a dogged Dominican Republic side 3-2 in San Salvador.
In Group B, Guyana made the most of their home-field advantage to beat Barbados 2-0 in Georgetown and now share top spot with Trinidad and Tobago.
Nicaragua went to the top of Group C with a straightforward 2-0 win on the road against Dominica. Raul Leguias scored early on in Roseau and Felix Rodriguez added another 10 minutes before the interval.
Group D saw Canada ease past island side St. Lucia with a minimum of fuss, a 4-1 result coming thanks to goals from Josh Simpson (2), talismanic midfielder Dwayne De Rosario and Will Johnson. In the section’s other contest, Puerto Rico held on for a share of the spoils in a goalless draw with St. Kitts and Nevis on the road in Basseterre.
Grenada have reached the last two instalments of the CONCACAF Gold Cup and are considered among the top upward-movers in the Caribbean region, making their shock 2-0 loss to Belize at home in St. George’s all the more surprising. The Group E meeting was settled thanks to first-half goals from Honduras-based pair Deon McCaulay and Harrison Roches, seeing Belize move from strength to strength after eliminating Montserrat in the previous round. Guatemala join Belize at the top of the section after their 4-0 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Haiti, unsurprisingly, hit the ground running in Group F, making light work of perennial strivers US Virgin Islands. Goals were shared throughout the team in the 6-0 drubbing in Port au Prince, with James Marcelin, Jean Eudes-Maurice, Kennel Pierre-Louis and Jean Alexandre (2) all getting on the scoresheet in a humbling of USVI, who had gone into the game with an improved world ranking and higher-than-usual hopes. In the other clash in the group, Antigua and Barbuda made easy meat of Curacao (formerly the Netherlands Antilles) 5-2, Peter Byers leading the way with a pair of well-taken goals.
Player of the day – Josh Simpson (CAN)
Former Canada youth national team standout, Simpson was a constant threat in Toronto against St. Lucia. Up against stiff resistance from a Caribbean side with little to lose, the Turkey-based Manisaspor man offered the hosts a cutting edge, carving out dangerous openings throughout the contest and laying claim to a pair of the Canucks’ goals.
What they said
“It’s a win and we’re happy with it. Of course we would have liked to put in a better performance and play better football, but at the end of the day the three points are the most important thing,” Simpson reflects on the less-than-convincing nature of Canada’s win over St. Lucia.
1 – The number of minutes it took Nicaragua’s Raul Leguias to silence the crowd in Roseau. The coolly struck goal got the ball rolling on the Central Americans’ road win against lightweight Caribbean side Dominica.
CONCACAF Second Round, Matchday One
Suriname 1-0 Cayman Islands
Dominica 0-2 Nicaragua
Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 Bermuda
Grenada 0-2 Belize
Haiti 6-0 US Virgin Islands
El Salvador 3-2 Dominican Republic
Guyana 2-0 Barbados
St. Kitts and Nevis 0-0 Puerto Rico
Canada 4-1 St. Lucia
Guatemala 4-0 St. Vincent and the Grenadines