Fancied sides Canada, El Salvador, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Guatemala all kept up the form in matchday two of CONCACAF group-stage qualifying for Brazil 2014. The leading quintet all won their second consecutive games of the campaign and are looking likely to stroll into the third round. Join FIFA.com for a tour of all the Tuesday-night action in the New World.
Match of the day
Puerto Rico 0-3 Canada
Canada’s 4-1 win at home last week against St. Lucia looked better on paper than it did on the pitch, but their gritty victory on the road in Bayamon against a tricky Puerto Rico outfit on Tuesday seems to tell the true tale of this crafty Canuck outfit. The first goal of the game came from former youth standout Iain Hume, who has made a miraculous return to club and international football after suffering a life-threatening skull fracture in 2008. The fiery striker, who now plays his club football for Preston North End in England, found the back of the net four minutes before the interval. New standout striker Simeon Jackson and Toisaint Ricketts sealed the deal in the last five minutes as Canada, hoping to reach only their second FIFA World Cup™, are looking comfy at the summit of Group D.
In other action
The Dominican Republic, usually associated with baseball rather than football, raised a few eyebrows by holding Suriname to a 1-1 draw at home for their first points in Group A. El Salvador, who made heavy weather of their win over the Dominicans last week, picked up their second victory, this time beating Cayman Islands handily 4-1 away from home.
Group B favourites Trinidad and Tobago kept up the form by beating island neighbours Barbados 2-0 on the road in Bridgetown thanks to goals from Keon Daniel and Darryl Roberts. With two wins from two games, Otto Pfister’s Soca Warriors are sitting comfortably atop the group, alongside Guyana, who beat Bermuda 2-1 in Georgetown with both goals coming from Vurlon Mills.
CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-finalists Panama struggled in their opening Group C contest against Nicaragua, but goals from Luis Tejada and Blas Perez eventually led them to a 2-1 victory in Managua.
St. Kitts and Nevis pulled off an impressive result, besting minnows St. Lucia 4-2 for their first win of the campaign. Four different scorers hit the net during the first half for the island side as they move into second place in Group D, two points behind Canada, who put on an impressive winning display in Puerto Rico.
Group E favourites Guatemala didn’t have things all their own way away from home against up-and-comers Belize, but they still managed a 2-1 win with the goals coming from Gustavo Cabrera and Mynor Lopez. The other two teams in the group – St. Vincent and Grenadines and Grenada – meet on 18 September.
Antigua and Barbuda kept up their prolific charge in Group F with an 8-1 win over outgunned US Virgin Islands, whose recent rise in the world ranking is looking little more than an anomaly. The Antiguans are the highest-scoring team in CONCACAF qualifying with 13 goals scored and only three conceded. Haiti aren’t far behind with ten goals overall; their 4-2 win in Curacao sees them tangled for top spot in the section.
Player of the day – Peter Byers (Antigua and Barbuda)
Peter Byers, who plays his club football in the USA lower Leagues with LA Blues, is in the mood for goals. After picking up two in the Antiguans 5-2 opening win last week at home against Curacao, the 26-year-old hit-man was on song again on Tuesday, hitting the net three times in less than 20 minutes to put US Virgin Islands to the sword as Antigua and Barbuda roar to the top of top of an all-Caribbean Group F, alongside Haiti. With five goals in two games, Byers is top scorer in CONCACAF qualifying for Brazil 2014.
What they said
“We have to go back to the drawing board. Our backs are now firmly against the wall. If we are to have any chance of qualifying, we have to win all of our remaining matches,” Barbados coach Colin Forde on his side’s dwindling hopes after two straight losses.
4 – Say what you will about lightweight St Lucia, but at least they are consistent. The men from the picturesque island nation have conceded the same number of goals in both of their qualifying group games so far – four against Canada and four against St. Kitts and Nevis.
CONCACAF Second Round, Matchday Two
US Virgin Islands 1-8 Antigua and Barbuda
Dominican Republic 1-1 Suriname
Barbados 0-2 Trinidad and Tobago
Belize 1-2 Guatemala
St. Lucia 2-4 St. Kitts and Nevis
Nicaragua 1-2 Panama
Cayman Islands 1-4 El Salvador
Guyana 2-1 Bermuda
Puerto Rico 0-3 Canada
Curacao 2-4 Haiti