It was a stunning turn of events for the Reggae Boyz. After all, in October, it became the lone Caribbean side to progress to the hexagonal round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, posting a memorable 2-1 victory over the United States along the way.
Jamaica had reached the quarterfinals in three of the last five Gold Cups and has a Caribbean-record eight appearances in the confederation's biennial championship.
Though there is disappointment in the Jamaican camp, joy abounds in a Cuban squad that relied on timely scoring and a stingy defense to earn a seventh trip to the Gold Cup. Following a 1-0 loss in its opener to Martinique, Cuba registered single-goal triumphs over French Guyana (2-1) and, of course, Jamaica.
A closely contested first half saw both Cuba and Jamaica create some chances. The difference, though, came in the 57th minute, when Alianni Urgelles volleyed home from just inside the 18-yard box to give his team a lead it would never surrender.
Jamaica was captained by 1998 World Cup veteran Ricardo Gardner, 34, who tried mightily to inspire the Reggae Boyz to victory. Forwards Darren Mattocks and Ryan Johnson were dangerous throughout, but the Cuban backline held firm and simply waited to counterattack when necessary.
Midfielder Ariel Martinez was spectacular for Cuba, dictating pace and pulling the strings like a true maestro. He was in position to grab a deserved goal himself in the 70th minute, but fell just inside the six-yard box after beating a defender.
Shortly after, Jamaican Tramaine Stewart sped down the left flank and fired a shot from an acute angle that went agonizingly close. The 24-year-old could only shake his head in disbelief.
Despite throwing everything into the attack, Jamaica found roadblocks in the form of Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina and a defense organized capably by Jorge Corrales.
The semifinal pairings are set from which a new Caribbean champion by will crowned. On Thursday, Group A winner Haiti will meet Cuba, while Martinique will square-off against eight-time champion Trinidad & Tobago.