October 19 – The Concacaf Nations League quarter final match-ups have thrown up two intriguing ties with Jamaica facing Canada and Panama meeting Costa Rica in what look set to be defining moments for all four nations.
Jamaica have been powered by an increasingly effective Premier League recruitment strategy that now looks to be starting to knit together, particularly in their forward line. They have a point to prove and could be catching Canada at the right time.
Canada, who were pre-seeded into the quarter finals, have flattered to deceive and while they have thrust themselves into the top four of Concacaf’s nations over the past five seasons, have failed to win a regional title and are now readjusting to a new coach and a federation budget that has been stretched to the limits.
Panama again find themselves up against Costa Rica in a Central American battle for bragging rights. Costa Rica were pre-seeded due to their higher ranking than Panama but it is the Panamanians who have had the stronger 2023, having made the last Nations League final four as well as the Gold Cup final in July.
In the other quarter finals Mexico face a Honduras team desperate to return to Concacaf’s elite while the top ranked USA have perhaps the easiest draw, facing a Trinidad and Tobago team that struggled at the Gold Cup and comes from a federation still under the management of a normalisation committee.
The ties will be played home and away in the November international window and have the added prize of qualifying four of the six teams for the Conmebol Copa America 2024 to be played in the US next Summer. The Nations League finals will be played in March.
Panama and Trinidad and Tobago were the last two teams to qualify from their Nations League group.
Panama made no mistake with a 3-0 victory over Central American rivals Guatemala at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama.
Adalberto Carrasquilla opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Panama went 2-0 up just after the restart through an Eric Davis penalty. A player up for most of the second half, Panama made it 3-0 in the 90th minute with a headed goal by Abdiel Ayarza.
Trinidad and Tobago were not so convincing in their final group game, being beaten 5-3 by Curacao. However, the nine points taken from their first three matches was enough to take them through.
The four Quarterfinal pairings are:
QF1: Costa Rica (4) vs Panama (best group winner)
QF2: Canada (3) vs Jamaica (next best group winner)
QF3: United States (2) vs Trinidad and Tobago (best runner-up)
QF4: Mexico (1) vs Honduras (next best runner-up)
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