With the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup launch slightly more than two weeks away, CONCACAF.com will take a look at one of the 12 participants each day until July 7, when the competition kicks off at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Today, in the third of the series, we feature Curacao
Gold Cup Glance: Curacao
Head Coach: Remko Bicentini (Netherlands)
Qualification Method: Champion, 2017 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup
Previous Appearances: none
Best Finish: --
Current GC All-Time Ranking: --
Biggest Win: --
All-Time Leading GC Scorer: --
Curacao sealed its first-ever trip to the CONCACAF Gold Cup, when it rallied for a 4-2 win over host Puerto Rico on October 11, 2016, to finish atop the Group 3 table in the third round of the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup.
The Curacaoans then went on to capture their first-ever Caribbean crown in June 2017, when they defeated Jamaica in the final, 2-1, on a pair of goals by Elson Hooi. After dropping a 1-0 decision to Barbados in the tournament opener, Curacao went on to win seven straight games to post an overall record of 7W-0D-1L, scoring 25 goals and conceding eight.
The side contains some talented players ready to make a splash on the CONCACAF stage, including forward Gino van Kessel, who was the Caribbean Cup’s joint-top scorer with teammate Felitciano Zschusschen on seven goals. Van Kessel was the 2015/16 Slovakian first division’s top scorer, netting 17 goals for Trencin.
Aston Villa midfielder/defender Leandro Bacuna represented the Netherlands at the U19 (9 games/1 goal) and U21 (6 games/1 goal) levels in European competitions, while midfielder Gevaro Nepomuceno appeared in six games and scored one goal for Romania’s Petrolul Ploiesti in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League qualifying phase.
Another to watch is defender Rhuendly “Cuco” Martina, who has UEFA Europa League experience with FC Twente and Southampton. He became first Curacao international to score in the English Premier League, when he opened Southampton’s goal account in the 19th minute of a 4-0 win over visiting Arsenal on December 26, 2015.
After serving as Patrick Kluivert’s assistant coach, Remko Bicentini was handed the Curacao managerial reins in September 2016. Kluivert -- a former Netherlands, Barcelona and AC Milan star – coached the first two rounds of the Caribbean Cup.