Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cuban impression

With seven Cubans having defected, Cuba's Under-23 national team is depleted. The squad has just 11 players left and it's likely the team will have to forfeit the rest of its games.

Where does that leave the United States? In a terrible situation, it seems. If Cuba cannot continue, then Honduras and Panama will likely gain three points apiece. Not counting results against the US, Honduras would thus have six points and Panama three.

Now, with wins over Honduras and Panama, the United States would be fine regardless of other results. But it's not as easy as just flicking on the switch and getting wins. If it were, the U.S. would have handled Cuba easily.

Another possibility, though seemingly less likely, is that Cuba is forced to forfeit all of its games and thus the U.S. would have three points now instead of one. In a way, that could balance out the group but that match was already played and it doesn't seem likely that the game would simply be wiped off. If Cuba had used an ineligible player, for instance, that scenario would be more plausible.

As it stands, however, the U.S. is in a terrible situation. The team did not play up to expectations and suddenly their opponents will likely be given three free points apiece.

It's fair to say, though, that the United States' game against Panama now is do-or-die. If Cuba does forfeit its two remaining games and the first result stands, the U.S. needs a win against Panama, plain and simple. Panama essentially has three points. They would eliminate the U.S. with a win but even with a draw they'd force the U.S. to beat Honduras or else.


A.Ruiz said...

That was their master plan all along!

A.C. said...

Cuba might forfeit its games, but it wouldn't leave the U.S. with three points. As far as I could understand from what other reporters said last night, if Cuba forfeits, their entire record from the tournament goes. None of the games with Cuba would give any points. Teams would just play each other and advance off the point total of that. The tie with the U.S. would be pointless.

Martin said...

CONCACAF threatened to expel Cuba's senior team from World Cup qualifying if they forfeited these U-23 games so Cuba are out playing today against Honduras. They're about to kickoff now and because Cuba only traveled to this tournament with 18 players and now that 7 players have defected and Linares was sent off against the US and is suspended (come on why didn't CONCACAF rescind that red card under these extraordinary circumstances, it was a weak 2nd yellow to begin with?) the Cubans are beginning this game against Honduras with only 10 players!

Reminds me of some Sunday league teams I've played on where we'd play some games short handed because some teammates were too hungover from the night before!

In all seriousness though CONCACAF should have allowed Linares to play and at the least should let Cuba send a few more replacements in from home to fill out the roster. Plus who knows how many others may defect after tonight? I wouldn't want to be the guy in charge of "security" for this Cuban team who is ostensibly supposed to be 'watching" out over the team and preventing any defections. He'll end up back home guarding some warehouse from now on!

papa bear said...

I hope Angela is right. It seems to be the most fair. Otherwise, it's Nowak's fault for employing crap tactics and dooming the team from the first whistle.

@Martin: I totally disagree that Linares should play because of 'extraordinary' circumstances. The yellow card was a yellow card. It's a pretty clear rule that you can't crank the ball downfield after a whistle which he did. Did he miss the whistle? Perhaps. Doesn't change a thing though. It's a cheap thing to get carded for but he's a grown man and should know the rules by now.
Regarding replacements that would set a bad precedent if a team suffers a bunch of injuries saying the same thing. Eveyone on earth knew this was going to happen. Hell, Bretos called it halfway through the half. It's a risk Cuba takes when they travel to free nations especially the US. They have to live with the fact that their oppresive system causes their people to want to run for the hills the first chance they get.

papa bear said...

Doh! I meant Andrea not 'Angela'. Had someone else on my mind. *sigh* :) SORRY, ANDREA!