St. Kitts & Nevis advance to second round of Concacaf Gold Cup qualifiers after dramatic 3-2 shootout win over Curacao; Martinique, Guadeloupe also through

By Concacaf June 17, 2023
St. Kitts & Nevis trio (from left) Romaine Sawyers, Julani Archibald and Rowan Liburd celebrating after their 3-2 penalty shootout win over Curacao. St. Kitts & Nevis trio (from left) Romaine Sawyers, Julani Archibald and Rowan Liburd celebrating after their 3-2 penalty shootout win over Curacao. Concacaf

St. Kitts & Nevis, Martinique and Guadeloupe all advanced as action got underway in Concacaf Gold Cup qualifying at the DRV PNK stadium in Fort Lauderdale on Friday.

In the first match of the 2023 Concacaf Gold Cup Prelims, Guadeloupe defeated Antigua and Barbuda 5-0 to move within one game of reaching the Gold Cup group stage for the fifth time in their history. 

Joshua Parker had the first good chance of the game for Antigua and Barbuda in the 11th minute but was unable to keep his shot on target. After that, the first half was largely controlled by Guadeloupe. Thierry Ambrose had two thunderous shots, but both were parried away by Antigua GK Nicholas Townsend. 

The breakthrough came in the 28th minute when Steven Solvet directed a corner kick into the back of the net with a towering header. It was Les Gwada Boys’ first goal against Antigua and Barbuda since 2010, after being shut out twice during the recent Nations League B tournament.

Just seconds before halftime, Andreaw Gravillon curled a free kick around the Antigua and Barbuda wall and off the post. The ball fell right to Jordan Tell, who tapped in to double the lead to 2-0 heading into the break.

It was more of the same after halftime. Tell had another close-range effort in the 55th minute but this time Townsend made a fantastic save to keep the Benna Boys in the game. It must be said that Townsend was nothing short of exceptional this afternoon.

Mohammed Hakeem had a breakaway with a chance to pull one back for Antigua in the 63rd minute but placed his shot just a few feet wide of the near post. However, the game was put to bed soon after in the 66th minute when Steven Davidas’ nifty chip beat Townsend and made it 3-0.

Luther Archimede would add a fourth, his first international goal, in the 70th minute. Guadeloupe would see out the rest of the game for a clean sheet, and Matthias Phaeton blasted home the fifth and final goal in the 93rd minute.

Les Gwada Boys will face the winner of Guyana-Grenada on Tuesday in the second preliminary round.

The day’s second game saw Martinique move one step closer to returning to the Gold Cup group stage with a hard fought 3-1 victory over Saint Lucia.

Saint Lucia came out aggressively and threatened twice in the opening six minutes with two long balls. Andrus Remy was just barely offside on the first and Dominic Alfred-Poleon’s attempt was blocked moments after. The tone was immediately set: this would not be a League A team easily overpowering a League C one.

Martinique would draw first blood in the 18th minute. Karl Fabien received the ball just inside the penalty area and coolly finished past Saint Lucia GK Vino Barclett into the side netting by the far post.

Martinique’s Kevin Fortune had an excellent chance to make it 2-0 in the 25th minute after a lovely give-and-go with Anthony Brighton Labeau, but his first touch was just a hair too strong and he wound up putting the ball over the top of the net.

But Saint Lucia were not going to go away quietly. A looping corner kick saw the ball fall to Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, and he took his chance expertly. A blast passed out-of-position Martinique GK Yannis Clementia knotted the game all up at 1-1 in the 40th minute.

Martinique nearly re-took the lead in the 56th minute when Labeau poked a ball towards goal from close range, but Barclett made a sensational diving stop to keep things even. 

Labeau would get his goal though, on a flexible finish in the 74th minute. Enrick Reuperne’s cross was just slightly behind, but Labeau was able to stretch back and get solid contact on the ball to give Martinique a 2-1 lead.

Despite a spirited effort from Saint Lucia to equalize, Patrick Burner would seal the deal for Martinique on the other end with a third goal in the 85th minute. 

Martinique will play the winner of Puerto Rico and Suriname on Tuesday for a spot in Group C alongside Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Panama.

In the final match of the day in the 2023 Gold Cup Prelims, Saint Kitts and Nevis got two saves from GK Julani Archibald to eliminate Curacao 3-2 in a hectic penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation.

The Sugar Boyz found themselves with a very early breakaway, with Jacob Hazel getting the ball behind the defense in just the third minute of play, but Curacao’s Leandro Bacuna was able to track back and run him down before Hazel could fire off a shot.

But it was Curaçao who struck first. Jurgen Locadia let loose a low strike from the top of the penalty area in the 22nd minute that just barely made it past Archibald, brushing off his fingertips but not hard enough to change trajectory. It was Locadia’s first international goal and gave Curacao a 1-0 lead at halftime.

In the second half, the Sugar Boyz again came right out of the gates with a good chance. Omari Sterling-James had a very solid effort from long range in the 49th minute that Curacao GK Eloy Room was forced to parry away.

The game settled into a pattern reminiscent of the first half, with Curacao largely in control but unable to break through with any truly excellent chances. Archibald deserves plaudits for his safe hands; he caught several balls that would have been quite dangerous had he allowed a rebound.

The moment of the evening came in the 83rd minute. Tiquanny Williams cut the ball back towards the penalty spot and Tyquan Terrell rocketed it straight into the top corner of the net for a dramatic late equalizer.

At 1-1 after the 90 minutes were up, the game proceeded to a penalty shootout. Archibald saved the first kick, and Room responded with an even finer save. The two sides exchanged goals for several frames before Archibald produced another quality save in the fourth round. Terrell hit his penalty, and Leandro Bacuna put Curacao’s fifth over the bar, sending Saint Kitts and Nevis into hysteria.

Saint Kitts and Nevis will now get ready to face the winner of French Guiana and Sint Maarten for a place in the Gold Cup group stage.

 

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