NORTH SOUND, Antigua, CMC – Defending champions Jamaica were dumped from the CFU Caribbean Cup here Thursday night, after losing 1-0 to Cuba in their final preliminary match.
Entering the feature contest at the Vivian Richards Stadium needing nothing less than a win to qualify, the Reggae Boyz failed to produce and were up-ended by Aliannis Urgellés’s second half goal.
Cuba were joined in today’s semi-finals by Martinique who trounced French Guiana 3-1 to finish on top of Group B with seven points. Cuba were one behind in second, with French Guiana third on three points and Jamaica finishing on a single point without a win.
The result meant that Jamaica also missed out on a spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup scheduled for the United States next year, after eight appearances in the biennial confederation championship.
Jamaica have been good enough to reach the quarter-finals of the last five Gold Cups, and only recently qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers.
The title-holders were frustrated by an organized Cuban side which soaked up Jamaica’s attacks before hitting on the counter.
Ariel Martinez controlled Cuba’s strategy from midfield, sitting at the core of the passing game and organizing their organizing attacks.
After a goalless first half, the game came to life in the 57th minute when Cuba took the lead through Urgellés. Following a corner from the right side, he eluded his marker to head past goalkeeper Duwayne Kerr.
Tramaine Stewart came close for Jamaica moments later but his shot flew just wide of its target, and goalkeeper Odelin Molina then repelled everything Jamaica’s attackers could throw his way.
In the preceding game, Martinique dominated from the outset with Frédéric Piquionne, Kévin Parsemain and Anthony Angely all getting on the scoresheet, while Jean-Claude Darcheville answered for French Guiana late on.