Cuba should receive FIFA ban for actions

Canada against Cuba during the World Cup soccer qualifier held at BMO field on Friday Oct 12, 2012....

Canada against Cuba during the World Cup soccer qualifier held at BMO field on Friday Oct 12, 2012. ERNEST DOROSZUK/ QMI Agency

Kurtis Larson, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:11 AM ET

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras - Soccer’s governing body should issue the Cuban federation a ban for failing to field a competitive side during Friday night’s World Cup qualifier in Toronto.

Following his side’s 3-0 loss, Cuban head coach Alexander Gonzalez admitted that the islanders travelled with just 15 players, four of which he said “left the team” after Cuba’s arrival.

Beyond travelling with a skeleton squad, one that withered to 11 players before Friday night’s one-sided affair, Gonzalez attempted to defend his player selection, a roster full of names that hadn’t previously taken part in the tournament.

“There were some new faces,” Gonzalez said through a translator. “I’m trying to integrate some new players into the team. I chose players to come to this game who have a passion and a love of the game.”

Gonzalez, a former Cuban international himself, continued by saying multiple players he selected played through injury – another shocking admission that questioned the integrity of the contest.

“There were two players who were injured,” Gonzalez said. “I want to try and integrate and unify the team and introduce some new players into the program.”

As Cuba was eliminated from World Cup contention before Friday’s match, it’s conceivable that the federation left many of its top players at home due to defection fears.

 

“I put out the lineup that I thought I needed to play,” said Gonzalez, when asked if it was fair to the rest of the group. “(Honduras and Panama) need to look out for themselves.”

And FIFA, or CONCACAF, need to do the right thing and eliminate the nonsense that has become so prevalent within the region.

A POINT AWAY

With Honduras holding Panama to a dull draw in Panama City Friday night, all three nations will fight for two spots in CONCACAF’s final round Tuesday.

While Panama and Canada sit atop Group C on 10 points, the Panamanians hold a big goal difference advantage, the first tiebreaker should teams finish with the same amount of points.

Hondurans were still buzzing Friday after their well-earned draw in Panama, one that allows Los Catrachos to advance with a win over Canada.

Although Panama is all but guaranteed passage barring a huge letdown in Havana , supporters here remain confident the 2010 World Cup participants will handle a Canadian side it views as inferior – and rattled when it comes to playing on the road.

“We always knew that it would probably come down to the Honduras game,” Canadian head coach Stephen Hart said. “We have some days to do a little practice … Hopefully we’ll get it right.”

A draw will see Canada secure passage to the region’s last six for the first time since 1998, from which three nations will automatically qualify for the 2014 World Cup.

CONCACAF QUALIFYING NOTES

Mexico (Group A) remains the only team to have secured a place in the region’s final round. After winning 2-1 in El Salvador Friday night, Costa Rica looks sure to earn Group A’s second available spot as it hosts group minnows Guyana Tuesday … In Group B, the Americans needed a stoppage-time goal to beat lowly Antigua and Barbuda in the Caribbean. With Jamaica losing 2-1 in Guatemala, a draw between the U.S. and Guatemala in Kansas City Tuesday will see both through. Should the U.S. beat Guatemala, Jamaica would need to beat Antigua and Barbuda and move above Guatemala on goal difference.

HARSH – BUT FAIR – OUTLOOK

The Reds are regretting throwing away two points when they hosted Honduras at BMO Field in June. Before a goalless finish in Toronto, Canada had multiple chances to win it late, a result that would have seen it secure passage upon beating Cuba.

Now, Canada will have to earn it playing away at arguably the second most difficult CONCACAF venue behind Mexico City’s Azteca.

The grass will be long, the all-in-blue crowd will be exceedingly hostile and Canada will be missing both Olivier Occean, who was red-carded Friday, and an injured Dwayne De Rosario.

Shorthanded up front, Canada announced Saturday it added under-23 international Lucas Cavallini, a 19-year-old striker who impressed at the most recent Olympic qualifying tournament, to Tuesday's roster.

Make no mistake about it, Canada wasn’t, and still isn’t, expected to get out of its group. But it also wasn’t expected to control its own destiny on the final day.

Stranger things have happened, and that’s enough for most supporters.

HONDURAS MORE SECURE?

Don’t expect the scenes outside Canada’s hotel here in San Pedro Sula to resemble the street party that took place in Panama City a month ago.

Despite concerns from the Canadian Soccer Association leading up to Tuesday’s match, the Intercontinental in the country’s industrial hub is “highly secure,” according to hotel staff, who gave their assurance that Honduran supporters wouldn’t be permitted – like they so shockingly were in Panama – to disrupt Canada’s stay and sleep patterns.

“We can’t control what goes on in the street, but we will be taking a number of precautions (in Honduras),” Canadian head coach Stephen Hart said during the buildup to this week’s matches. “I don’t want to talk about it for obvious reasons.”

While Canada’s latest accommodations seem slightly more secure, it’s no secret where Canada is staying. The hotel frequently houses away teams, which could make for an interesting few days with so much riding on one game.

 


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