BUSY SUMMER

Jamaica Midfielder Andre Lewis (4) heads the ball against USA Midfielder Christian Pulisic (10) during the second half of semi-final play in the CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer tournament at Nissan Stadium on July 3, 2019, Nashville, TN, USA. USA won 3-1.
Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

CONCACAF said on Thursday that it will be a busy summer in the CONCACAF region, including for the teams competing in the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Preliminary.

“It is the first time ever that a preliminary round of matches will be used to determine the remaining spots in a Gold Cup Group Stage,” it said.

CONCACAF said the Prelims will use a direct elimination format and will take place in Miami, Florida, July, 2-6, with 12 nations vying for the three precious spots in the 2021 Gold Cup Group Stage.

Based on their performances in the 2019-20 CONCACAF Nations League, CONCACAF said the following 12 teams will compete in the Gold Cup Prelims: Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Cuba, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

CONCACAF said Bahamas, Barbados, Guadeloupe and Guatemala qualified for the Prelims as group winners from League C; French Guiana, Guyana, Montserrat and St. Vincent and the Grenadines qualified as the second-place teams from their respective groups in League B; while Bermuda, Cuba, Haiti, and Trinidad and Tobago qualified as the third-place finishers in League A.

U.S. defender Aaron Long heads the ball in for a goal during the first half of the team’s CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer match against Trinidad and Tobago, Saturday, June 22, 2019, in Cleveland.  Associated Press/David Dermer, file

“The knockout format from the Preliminary Round will see three teams qualify for the 16-team Gold Cup Group Stage, where they will join the 12 teams that have already qualified for the Gold Cup: Canada, Costa Rica, Curacao, El Salvador, Grenada, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Suriname and the United States,” CONCACAF said.

“September’s 2021 first ever Gold Cup Draw produced some very interesting match-ups in the Prelims, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines squaring off against Haiti, who reached the semifinals of the 2019 Gold Cup,” it said.

CONCACAF said another contest that should “offer up plenty of intrigue” is Guatemala taking on Guyana.

It said Los Chapines have not competed in a Gold Cup since 2015, adding that it knows “a tough opponent awaits in the Golden Jaguars, who debuted in the 2019 edition.”

CONCACAF said one of the revelations in recent years has been Montserrat, who nearly qualified for the 2019 Gold Cup and now take aim at Trinidad and Tobago in their Prelims match-up.

Back in the Gold Cup mix for the first time since the 2017 group stage is French Guiana, who will face a Cuba side boasting European club-based players in the Prelims, CONCACAF said.

It said Match 5 will see Guadeloupe and Bahamas do battle with Guadeloupe Head Coach Jocelyn Angloma, who led Les Gwada Boys to the 2007 Gold Cup semifinals as a player, guiding his side against a Bahamas team looking for a first ever Gold Cup qualification.

CONCACAF said rounding out the Gold Cup Prelims First Round is “an interesting contest” between Bermuda and Barbados.

Bermuda not only competed in their first Gold Cup in 2019, but also earned their first ever Gold Cup win when they defeated Nicaragua, CONCACAF said.

Meanwhile, it said Barbados will be seeking a first ever Gold Cup Group Stage qualification.

Gold Cup Prelims First Round Match-ups: Haiti-St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Guatemala-Guyana; Trinidad and Tobago-Montserrat; Cuba-French Guiana; Guadeloupe-Bahamas; and Bermuda-Barbados.

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