Sports

Bahamas opens 2021 Gold Cup qualifiers on March 26

The Bahamas’ Senior Men’s National Soccer team will begin their quest to the 2021 Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Gold Cup with a home game against French Guiana on Thursday, March 26.

The game will be played at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium at 8 p.m. It will be the first leg of a home-and-away series in the first-round qualifiers.

In the second leg, The Bahamas will head to French Guiana and play a pivotal match on Tuesday, March 31 at Stade Municipal Dr. Edmard Lama, Cayenne, French Guiana, at 8 p.m.

The dates were revealed on Wednesday, January 28, by CONCACAF.

The winner of this home-and-away series will play Bermuda in June of this year.

The Bahamas finished the CONCACAF Nations League play last year at the top of League C Group B. They did so undefeated in a group that included Bonaire and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The team won three games and drew once.

The Bahamas’ “Junkanoo Boys” opened Nations League play with three straight wins before drawing the final match 1-1 against Bonaire. The Bahamian squad finished with 10 points in the group. Bonaire and the British Virgin Islands finished with seven and zero points respectively.

French Guiana finished second in League B Group A with two wins, two draws and two losses.

As of December 19, 2019, The Bahamas is ranked at number 195 in the FIFA (International Federation of Association Football)/Coca-Cola World Rankings amongst men’s national teams – moving up six places. French Guiana is not a member of FIFA and is not eligible to enter the World Cup. However, they are a member of CONCACAF and the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) and can participate in competitions organized by either organization.

It will be an uphill battle for The Bahamas.

League B and League C encompassed the lower-ranked teams. They were drawn into the first round of the qualifiers against each other. The winners of the games will face the third-place finishers from League A.

Apart from The Bahamas and French Guiana, other match-ups in the first round of Gold Cup qualifiers are Guadeloupe against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados against Guyana and Guatemala against Montserrat.

Waiting to play the other winners of the four first-round match-ups are Trinidad and Tobago, Haiti and Cuba.

There are only 16 teams that can play in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 12 have already punched their tickets leaving four spots up for grabs. The four spots will be revealed after the first two rounds of the qualifiers.

The 12 teams that have already qualified are the defending champions Mexico, runner-up the United States of America (USA), Jamaica, El Salvador, Grenada, Canada, Suriname, Panama, Costa Rica, Honduras, Curaçao and Martinique.

The Bahamas has been promoted to League B in this year’s CONCACAF Nations League after winning Group B in League C.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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