Malouda banned, Honduras awarded the win, Gold Cup group stages go to the wire

By Paul Nicholson

July 14 – French Guiana has been ruled to forfeit its last Gold Cup group game to Honduras for playing former French international Florent Malouda. The 3-0 forfeit (the match itself was a 0-0 draw) puts Honduras firmly back into contention for qualification to the next round of the competition.

With the points being awarded to Honduras they are now just one point behind group leaders Canada and Costa Rica and have an equal goal difference to Canada, one better than Costa Rica who they lost to in game one.

Honduras face Canada next and need a win to guarantee qualification. Canada will go through with a draw or a win. Costa Rica could exit the competition if they draw with French Guiana and Canada and Honduras draw.

The matches will be played tomorrow as a double header at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

As well as losing the point for draw and Malouda from the competition (he has been suspended for two official matches, during which he will serve a concurrent stadium ban), the French Guiana Football League has been fined an undisclosed amount.

The ruling was a tricky one for the disciplinary committee. French Guiana are playing in the Gold Cup for the first time but are not a member of FIFA. Malouda has already played for the country without sanction in the Caribbean Cup.

FIFA rules state that a player cannot switch national team once they have played a competitive national team game for the first country. Malouda has played 80 times for France inclduing the 2006 World Cup final against Italy.

All to play for in Gold Cup final group games

Groups B and C in the Gold Cup are similarly tight with no team having guaranteed a spot in the knockout rounds with just one group game to go.

The US top Group B on equal points with Panama after surviving a late comeback by Caribbean minnows Martinique to win 3-2. They face Nicaragua next who have so far failed to win a point. Martinque need to been Panama to go through.

In Group C Mexico are equal top with Jamaica. El Salvador are a point behind and need to win to go through. Mexico look to have the easiest final round fixture against Curacao who have yet to get a point.

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