Free-scoring Canada and Haiti solidified places at the top of their respective groups in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil with big wins. Trinidad and Tobago, however, were not so fortunate on their travels, losing out to minnows and bogey side Bermuda for the second time in as many qualifying campaigns. FIFA.com catches you up on all the Friday-night action around the New World.
Match of the day
Bermuda 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago
The tiny Atlantic island of Bermuda has a way of getting up for games against their big neighbors Trinidad and Tobago. They nearly sent the Soca Warriors out of South Africa 2010 qualifying on the strength of an inspirational home win, and many of those same players – John Nusum and captain Khano Smith in particular – repeated the dose in qualifying on Friday. The Bermuda’s so-called Gombey Warriors took advantage of a T&T side missing captain and talisman Kenwyne Jones to pull off an impressive 2-1 win and get their campaign back on track with a first win. Suffering their first loss of the qualifiers, the Trinidadians lose top spot in Group B to Guyana, with the resurgent Bermudans charging just three points behind them. With only the top team going through to the next phase, the fancied Trinidadians will need to re-find their form and winning ways when they take on basement-dwellers Barbados on Tuesday.
In other action
El Salvador kept hold at the top of Group A with a tense 2-1 win in the Dominican Republic, who were forced to play a man down for most of the game in San Cristobal. The late game in the group saw Suriname cement their hold on second place with a 1-0 win over bottom side Cayman Islands which puts them two points off the Salvadorans’ pace.
Guyana took full advantage of Trinidad and Tobago’s big loss to Bermuda in Group B, sending Barbados virtually out of contention with a simple 2-0 win in Bridgetown. Anthony Abrams and Chris Nurse scored the goals in the last 17 minutes of a game that will likely end the pointless Barbadians’ miserable campaign.
Panama, semi-finalists from this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, took sole ownership of pole position in Group C with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Caribbean outfit Dominica, who have yet to pick up their first point. Blas Perez and Luis Tejada were both on target as Julio Dely Valdes’ Canaleros are soaring on six points from two games.
Canada maintained their stranglehold at the top of Group D with a 7-0 goal-fest (one of two on the day) against little St. Lucia on the road, powerful striker Simeon Jackson leading the rout with a trio of well-taken goals. Chasing the Canucks four points points back are St. Kitts and Nevis, who drew 1-1 away against third-place Puerto Rico.
Group E leaders Guatemala never looked like stumbling in their away meeting with St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Mario Rodriguez scored twice for the Central Americans and section favourites before Dwight Pezzarossi made it a 3-0 rout for the Chapines. In the section’s other game, Grenada found their footing to best Belize 4-1, creating a frenzied three-way tangle for second place.
Over in Group F, Haiti kept up their sparkling form with a 7-0 hammering of lowly US Virgin Islands who – despite some nominal improvements – are mired on zero points and have conceded an astounding 21 goals in the competition thus far. Antigua and Barbuda kept pace with the Haitians, even on points at the top of the section after beating Curacao 1-0 on the road.
Player of the day – Simeon Jackson (Canada)
Powerful, bulky and lightning fast, Canada’s ace up front ran riot against St. Lucia, scoring no fewer than three times to keep the country’s 100-per cent record alive. The Kingston, Jamaica-born striker, who plays his club football in England’s Premier League with new boys Norwich City, has been making waves in recent contests and had a night to remember on the cricket oval in Gros Islet. All of the pacey ace’s strikes came in the space of 20 first-half minutes. When the 24-year-old tormenter was substituted with 23 minutes left in the match, a weary sigh of relief was heard among the home fans.
What they said
“I liked the seriousness my team showed today, even more than I liked the score of the game. We took things very seriously when we had the ball and we kept it. We are hoping to cement first place on Tuesday, but Nicaragua is a tough opponent and will give us plenty of resistance,” Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes after his side’s 5-0 dismantling of Dominica.
17 – the number of goals that Group F leaders Haiti have scored over the course of their three matches, an average of 5.6 per game and three more than Canada, their closest chasers in the top-scorer stakes.
CONCACAF Second Round, Matchday Three
Dominican Republic 1-2 El Salvador
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 0-3 Guatemala
Belize 1-4 Grenada
Barbados 0-2 Guyana
US Virgin Islands 0-7 Haiti
Dominica 0-5 Panama
St. Lucia 0-7 Canada
Cayman Islands 0-1 Suriname
Bermuda 2-1 Trinidad and Tobago
Puerto Rico 1-1 St. Kitts and Nevis
Curacao 0-1 Antigua and Barbuda