Canada’s resounding 8-0 win over the U.S. Virgin Islands was a point of pride for John Herdman’s team, but shockingly, it was only good enough to see Canada into fourth place in the CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying table, after the first of four rounds of matches wrapped up earlier this week.
How is that possible?
Here’s a rundown of some of the strange and surreal scores and stats after the opening round of this new tournament:
Haiti dominates in 13-goal thriller
Poor Sint Maarten never saw it coming as Caribbean outfit Haiti put 13 unanswered goals past the national team of the Dutch half of the island of Saint Martin. That 13-0 win – courtesy of eight unique goal-scorers – put Haiti firmly atop the 34-team qualifying table, a position that manager Marc Collat will hope to keep in the coming rounds. Luckily, scoring hasn’t been much of a problem for Les Grenadiers, who have now notched as many goals as they have in their last seven games combined.
Haiti will hope that star striker Duckens Nazon stays hot, too – the Paris-born former Wolverhampton Wanderers man scored five goals all by himself, making him the early scoring leader while setting a new national team record for goals in a single game, too.
Cuba libre: Turks and Caicos concede double digits
Sitting second in the table is Cuba, which impressed with an 11-0 win over Turks and Caicos Islands, with five different players finding the back of the net. Left winger Luis Paradela got to take home the match ball with his hat-trick, as the home crowd in Havana’s Pedro Marrero stadium watched the Leones del Caribe record the single-largest margin of victory in team history.
Unfortunately, those watching this match –whether in the stands or online – had to look past an unfortunately-placed palm tree in the middle of the old baseball field.
Curacao on the mark for 10
Ten unanswered goals saw Curacao celebrate a 10-0 win over Grenada, pipping Canada for third place in the qualifying table, but, wouldn’t you know it, that’s not even the biggest victory in Curacao’s history. No, that honour goes to the Curacaoan side that dispatched Puerto Rico 14-0 back in December of 1948, the same year that the national team also suffered its largest defeat, 8-1 against the Netherlands.
The 70 years that followed have been generally up-and-down for Curacao, though this latest win saw Remko Bicentini’s side score more goals than they had recorded in their last 11 games combined. Not too shabby, Curacao.
Match postponed due to Hurricane Isaac
Though there were meant to be 18 matches to open the CONCACAF Nations League, Martinique and the British Virgin Islands saw their tilt at the Stade Pierre-Aliker in Fort-de-France delayed due to Hurricane Isaac.
The match was originally slated for Sept. 11, 2018 but was delayed to a later date, which CONCACAF offered would be announced later on.
Stat sheet tells the lopsided story
Is the CONCACAF Nations League the highest-scoring soccer tournament, ever? Well, with a total of 84 goals scored through 17 games of the opening round, you’ve got to wonder. Besides a goalless draw between Suriname and Dominica, the matches averaged out to almost five goals per game, with six matches featuring a win of five goals or more, of which three reached double digits.
A total of 55 separate players found the back of the net, with three players recording hat-tricks – Cuba’s Luis Paradela, Curacao’s Rangelo Janga and the Dominican Republic’s Domingo Peralta. And, despite the abundance of goals, 14 of the 32 teams in action didn’t find the back of the net against their opponents, making each result rather one-sided overall.
David vs. Goliath
The beauty of CONCACAF as a region is that by the nature of its member nations, smaller countries and islands can find themselves matched up with much bigger outfits. And, as a result, some of those underdogs can surprise their mightier foes. Case in point – Saint Kitts and Nevis, with a population of around 50,000 as of 2016, took on and defeated Puerto Rico 1-0 to kick off its Nations League campaign.
Puerto Rico boasts a population of well over 3 million, but Saint Kitts and Nevis sits 135 in FIFA’s World Ranking, to Puerto Rico’s 173. So, who’s the minnow, really?
If the 2019 Gold Cup started today …
… a couple of CONCACAF’s usual suspects wouldn’t be around to participate, even without losing.
The top 10 teams from this Qualifying round will earn a berth in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and while tournament regulars like Jamaica and Haiti would still be in the mix for the biennial affair, others like El Salvador and Nicaragua would miss out, despite picking up wins against Montserrat and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively.
Here’s how the table looks after the first round of CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying action: