- Curacao going from strength to strength sitting 80th in FIFA Ranking
- The Dutch Caribbean island side enjoyed an unbeaten 2018
- On track to seal consecutive Concacaf Gold Cup appearances
Trophies can change the culture of a team. Look no further than Curacao.
The Dutch Caribbean island nation of about 160,000 people with an average FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking of 137, lifted their first and the last Caribbean Cup trophy in 2017 before the competition was discontinued in favour of the region participating in the newly-formed Concacaf Nations League.
Everything that’s happened since then has shown that winning breeds confidence. They are unbeaten in all six of their most recent official matches. That stretch notably includes narrow friendly wins against Qatar and higher-ranked Bolivia.
A key figure in their recent success is head coach Remko Bicentini, who took over at the helm after serving as assistant coach to Patrick Kluivert.
"To get to a high level is in my opinion not the most difficult, but to be able to continue playing there is what matters," said Bicentini, speaking with Concacaf.com. "We have mainly learned to deal with certain situations in a disciplined way throughout the game."
Perfect Nations League start
Bicentini used the friendlies with Qatar and Bolivia to get his players to impose themselves and their game plan on the match instead of being reactive; a tactic that has paid dividends so far in Concacaf Nations League qualifiers.
Since the start of Concacaf Nations League qualifying in September 2018, Curacao have had a sensational start. They currently sit top of the 34-nation field after recording three consecutive wins and scoring a competition-leading 21 goals while conceding none.
They’re led by Everton’s Cuco Martina, Cardiff City’s Leandro Bacuna and Astana’s Rangelo Janga, who currently tops the scoring charts among players in the competition (6), among others.
Having a successful qualifying campaign in the newly-formed competition has broader significance to Bicentini and Co. They are ideally situated to finish in the top six slots, which will see them compete in Group A of the Concacaf Nations League, while finishing in the top ten will see them book consecutive qualifications for the Concacaf Gold Cup, which will run from 15 June to 7 July.
And as the statistics suggest, they are well placed to put in a better performance than their debut in 2017, where they were knocked out after the group stage having failed to score a goal.
Their world ranking of 80 is one of their highest since the Curacao Football Association’s foundation in 2011 and everything points to the islanders reaching new heights in 2019.