Gold Cup Nightly: Group C, Matchday One
Photo from CONCACAF.com
Mexico 2-0 Nicaragua
Nicaragua playing their first ever major tournament match gave a good account of themselves against a Mexican team that continues to underwhelm. El Tri was bailed out by an officiating error (a common theme when Mexico plays in CONCACAF matches)during first half stoppage time.
Still Javier Aguirre’s side who lost Carlos Vela early to injury and are without Guille Franco who has failed to turn up for the tournament looked lost despite playing against what could be called a semi professional set of players. Nicaragua were well organized at the back not only denying a goal in the run of play until the 86th minute but not allowing Mexico many real chances.
A year ago Mexico had a similarly embarrasing effort against Belize who has since been tossed out of FIFA. The uninspiring 2-0 win that day (also courtsey of a disputed penalty call) foretold a year of post 1982 lows for the Mexicans. Perhaps this effort tells us the next year will continue to be bad for Mexico our perhaps will serve as the bookend on a troubled year and give Aguirre some closure on the current set of failed players.
Panama 1-2 Guadeloupe
Panama under Gary Stempel has improved dramatically from a side that could not get out of the second round of World Cup qualifying to the winners of the Central American Championship. But today Stempel faced the unenviable task of going up against the Gold Cup squad with the most European based players.
When David Fleurival scored with a 35 yard or so shot, Guadeloupe looked in cruise control, dominating the match and leading 2-0 late in the first half.
But Panama applied lots of pressure and controlled the match from that point forward. Only some heroic goalkeeping by the experienced Marius Fausta as well as some poor finishing by Panama preserved the result for the French department.
But despite being under almost constant pressure, Guadeloupe’s pedigree of European based players whose previous experience in this tournament unluckily ended in the semifinals saw out the game. Panama’s 68th minute goal changed the game but still was not enough.
Gary Stempel can be proud of how his team fought and can take pride in the fact that Panama is setup well for the rest of the group stage.