June 17 – The Gold Cup breaks exciting new ground today as the Group C encounter between Curaçao and El Salvador marks the tournament debut in Kingston, Jamaica, part of Concacaf’s policy to spread the tournament around.
The two sides meet for the first time since facing each other in group action at the 2017 edition – a match El Salvador won 2-0 in its charge to the quarterfinals. In all they have met seven times, with four going El Salvador’s way while the other three ended in draws.
El Salvador head coach Carlos de los Cobos (pictured) returns to the Gold Cup after managing the team at the 2007 and 2009 editions. He will likely look to Nelson Bonilla and Oscar Ceren, the country’s top scorers in qualifying, to help the team get off on the right track.
Curacao, located 40 miles to the north of Venezuela with a population of around 160,000, made their tournament debut two years ago and will be looking for their first favourable result in the competition. Manager Remko Bicentini believes his team can be the surprise the tournament and has called on 12 returning players from the 2017 roster.
Don’t rule them out. The influence of Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert, who raised the profile of the Curaceo football when he coached the team for a year between March 2015 and June 2016, has been a crucial stepping stone and the islanders had an impressive run in Concacaf Nations League qualifiers with three wins out of four and the best goal differential (+20) in the competition.
As for favourites El Salvador, their 11th Gold Cup appearance almost didn’t happen. Los Cuscatlecos needed a win on the fourth and final day of Concacaf Nations League qualification, beating Jamaica, 2-0, to squeeze through.
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