SAN DIEGO, California – It’s not often in football that two teams battle in the final of one international competition and then square off again a few weeks later to open their schedules in another.
Well, that’s exactly what Curacao and Jamaica will do Sunday, when they meet to launch Group C play in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup at Qualcomm Stadium.
On June 25, Curacao prevailed over the Reggae Boyz, 2-1, in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup decider in Fort-de-France, Martinique. Attacker Elson Hooi starred for the Curacaoans, scoring two goals, including the game-winner in the 84th minute.
2017 SCOTIABANK CFU MEN’S CARIBBEAN CUP
June 25, 2017: Stade Pierre-Aliker – Fort-de-France, Martinique (Att: 5,200)
Jamaica-Curacao 1-2 (0-1)
Rosario Harriott 82’ / Elson Hooi 10’, 84’
Curacao wins 2016/17 Scotiabank CFU Men’s Caribbean Cup title
Jamaica: Dwayne Miller; Damion Lowe, Oniel Fisher, Sergio Campbell, Shaun Francis (Rosario Harriott 82’), Ewan Grandison, Michael Binns, Jermaine Johnson (Ricardo Morris 61’), Kevon Lambert, Cory Burke (Shamar Nicholson 72’), Owayne Gordon. Head Coach: Theodore Whitmore (suspended, replaced by Jerome Waite)
Curacao: Eloy Room; Dustley Mulder, Rhu-endly “Cuco” Martina, Darryl Lachman, Gillian Justiana, Quentin Jakoba, Leandro Bacuna, Jarchino Antonia (Gino van Kessel 74’), Elson Hooi (Doriano Kortstam (0’+2), Gevaro Nepomuceno, Rangelo Janga. Head Coach: Remko Bicentini
While many stars from Jamaica’s magical 2015 Gold Cup run are not on the current roster, that side is still well represented in the 2017 edition. Darren Mattocks (forward, Portland Timbers), Kemar Lawrence (defender, New York Red Bulls), and Je-Vaughn Watson (defender/midfielder, New England Revolution) – all played against Mexico at Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field (Mattocks scored in the 78th minute).
Curacao may not be a household name in the football world, but it has players competing with clubs in Europe. Some standing out are forward Gino van Kessel, who led the 2015/16 Slovakian league in scoring (17 goals, Trencin); defender Cuco Martina, who has UEFA Europa League experience with FC Twente and Southampton; and Aston Villa midfielder/defender Leandro Bacuna.
Here are some storylines to watch:
- Curacao is making its CONCACAF Gold Cup debut. How will the players handle the occasion?
- Can players like Martina and Bacuna – both accustomed to playing at large venues – offer leadership to their teammates, who may not have experience in this type of environment?
- With stars like Wes Morgan, Adrian Mariappa and Michael Hector not on the roster, can Jamaica reproduce the form that took it to the 2015 Gold Cup curtain closer?
- Jamaica is winless in its last three outings. If it falls behind against Curacao, what will be the response?
- What can be expected of a match that includes two teams that met in an intense Caribbean Cup final just two weeks ago?