- 16 teams to fight it out in Puerto Vallarta
- Panama aiming to defend their title
- One newcomer at this year’s competition
As well as bringing together the region’s top teams, the eighth Concacaf Beach Soccer Championship also serves as a qualifying competition for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Paraguay 2019.
What you need to know
- Venue: Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Dates: 13-19 May
- At stake: two places at Paraguay 2019
- Format: the 16 teams taking part have been drawn into four groups. The top two in each section progress to the quarter-finals, at which point the competition adopts a knockout format. The two finalists qualify for the World Cup.
|Grupo A||Grupo B||Grupo C||Grupo D|
|Costa Rica||Trinidad and Tobago||Bahamas||Guadaloupe|
|Jamaica||Turks and Caicos||Antigua and Barbuda||Belize|
|Guatemala||US Virgin Islands||Netherlands Antilles||Guyana|
Mexico and El Salvador have both finished in the top three at the last six CONCACAF Championships, the only two sides to have done so.
Mexico edge the Central Americans in pre-tournament expectations. World Cup participants in 2015 and 2017, they are still coached by Ramon Raya, the man who guided them to a world finals runners-up spot in 2007 and who has made the necessary changes in personnel to keep them competitive.
For their part, El Salvador missed the last two World Cups after finishing third in both qualifying competitions. Boosting their challenge will be the return of two legendary figures in Agustin Ruiz and Frank Velazquez, who collected the adidas Bronze Ball and Boot at Ravenna/Italy 2011, when the Salvadorans surprised everyone by taking fourth place.
Also in the mix are Panama, who unexpectedly came out of the pack to claim the regional title two years ago. Though they have struggled for consistency since appearing at Bahamas 2017, the reigning regional champions have again called on the services of Uruguayan coach Shuber Perez, the architect of their CONCACAF title win. Los Canaleros will head to Puerto Vallarta with the same core of players they took to the last World Cup.
The other contenders
USA: They have figured large on the regional scene in the past but have not made a World Cup since 2013. Under Eddie Soto, however, they have reasons to believe, having finished fifth at the 2018 Intercontinental Cup in Dubai, courtesy of wins over Spain and United Arab Emirates.
Costa Rica: Also likely to be in contention, despite finishing outside the top four two years ago. They have hired Brazilian coach Jefferson Martins in a bid to make the breakthrough this time.
Bahamas: Hoping to reap the benefits of hosting the regional qualifiers and the World Cup in 2017, they will be spearheaded once more by the gifted Lesly St. Fleur, the Bahamians have seven world finals veterans in their squad.
Guadeloupe, who placed fourth two years ago, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago have all shown recent signs of improvement, though it remains to be seen if they have what it takes to challenge the region’s powerhouses.
Did you know?
- Mexico have won the regional title three times, followed by USA (2), El Salvador (1) and Panama (1).
- No host nation has won the competition since 2010, when the Mexicans triumphed on home sand.
- Mexico, USA and Costa Rica are the only sides that have appeared at all seven editions of the competition.
- Bonaire are the only newcomers to the tournament.