PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania -- After a valiant performance at the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup, a showing that did not see progression to the knockout rounds but caught the eyes of the region, Curacao is now a Gold Cup quarterfinalist here in 2019.
2017 was Curacao’s debut at the competition. The return in 2019 saw the Southern Caribbean side punch its ticket to Philadelphia for a clash with the United States, perhaps the biggest match in Curacao football history.
Curacao started the 2019 Gold Cup with a 1-0 loss to El Salvador in Group C play, a match that was played in Kingston, Jamaica, with Jamaica defeating Honduras 3-2 in the nightcap. The match between Curacao and El Salvador was the first Gold Cup match to ever be played in Jamaica.
Next up for Curacao was a meeting with Honduras. Leandro Bacuna scored the only goal of the game, giving Curacao an historic 1-0 victory, the first in the nation’s history at a major competition, in turn eliminating Honduras from contention for the knockout rounds.
The final day in Group C saw one of the goals of the tournament get scored by Curacao, and what a time for that goal to come.
With Curacao trailing Jamaica 1-0 in Los Angeles, DF Jurien Gaari popped up with an absolute screamer from distance to tie the score 1-1 in the 93rd minute.
The draw, combined with Honduras defeating El Salvador 4-0 later that night, meant that Curacao was into the last eight for the first time.
“This means everything,” said Gaari post-game. “This is unbelievable. It’s a beautiful thing for this team and for our island.”