SANTA CLARA, Calif.- The tiny Caribbean island of Curaçao has not featured in CONCACAF’s Gold Cup tournament for 44 years. Luckily, that undreamt of streak will come to an end when the once ranked 183rd team ( according to FIFA.com) will take on Jamaica (2015 edition runner’s up) on July 9 in San Diego.
The draw saw the island being placed in this tournament’s ‘group of death’ having to share Group C with CONCACAF giants Mexico, Caribbean champions Jamaica, and El Salvador. Curaçao will not go in empty-handed into this summer’s tournament, as they will feature the best squad the country has ever been able to offer. The Caribbean Football Union representative is currently ranked 73rd (according to FIFA.com) making them the second highest ranked team in the group, only behind seven-time winners, Mexico.
Playing in the Gold Cup itself can already be considered a victory for the Caribbean side; as they are unfamiliar to sharing the stage with the best teams that CONCACAF has to offer.
“Historic and very big for us; almost unbelievable that we will be here it is like a world championship,” said coach Remko Bicentini.
Curaçao recognizes the quality within their group, but coach Bicentini made it evident that his Caribbean team has been collectively improving in recent years.
“It is difficult to say now (how they will approach the opponents),” added coach Bicentini. “We have a good team also, and we have played very good in the last two year; our level in FIFA is 73.”
Curaçao is not used to featuring in top tournaments, but its squad is compromised of players who appear in some of Europe’s professional soccer leagues. The team can be easily ‘overlooked’; making them a serious ‘dark horse’ come July.
“Yes I think, because the last year we grow up in level, but I think that in a lot of countries know where Curaçao is,” said coach Bicentini.