T&T coach Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors will meet Guadeloupe, coached by former Guadeloupe-born France-international Jocelyn Angloma at the home of Inter Miami FC, the DRV PNK Stadium, in Fort Lauderdale on June 16/17 in one of six first round matches of the preliminary qualification to the 2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
This was determined via a live draw witnessed by Eve on Friday at the SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California, USA, and hosted by TUDN sportscaster Valeria Marin, Fox Sports Lead Soccer Analyst and US Men’s National Team legend Alexi Lalas and ESPN play-by-play commentator Fernando Palomo.
CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president, Victor Montagliani, participate in the event, alongside the teams’ head coaches and important guests inclusive of the quartet of CONCACAF legends in former men’s players Jared Borgetti of Mexico, Carlos Pavon of Honduras, Cobi Jones of the USA, and former women’s player Tashana Vincent of Jamaica who helped with the event by serving as Draw Assistants.
Should 104th-FIFA T&T manage to get past unraked Guadeloupe whom they have an even record of two wins, three defeats, and two losses against in their first-round match, then they next face the winner of the Jamaal Shabbaz-coached Guyana, ranked 170th versus the 175th-ranked Grenada first-round clash for a spot in Group D of the 16-nation main draw with top-seeded Canada, ranked 47th in the world, 116th-ranked Guatemala, and Cuba, ranked 165th.
Speaking following the draw, former national captain Eve said, "We would have pulled the hardest team out of the possible six teams we could play, but its competition football and you have to go with the positive mindset and play whoever team that you draw at that point in time”
When we look at the other part of the draw and the possibility of our next opponent it will be between Grenada and Guyana, who is coached by our own Jamaal Shabbaz and then if we get past that the group in the main draw (Canada, Cuba and Guatemala) is a good one.
Looking ahead to the preliminary qualifiers Eve added, “T&T’s most capped player said ‘We have to do our work from day one, but it will be a little bit difficult in terms of our preparations as we may only have our players two days before the first match to prepare. In saying that we will be doing our homework and preparation firstly for the Guadeloupe match as well as some preparation for Guyana, or Grenada,” stated Eve.
In their past meetings, T&T went under to Guadeloupe in their first two matches, 1-2 in 1966 and 0-2 in the 1989 Caribbean Cup which T&T won, but have since gone on a five-match unbeaten run versus the French-speaking Caribbean Island, drawing goalless in 1994 also at the Caribbean Cup, before securing a 3-2 win in the 1999 Caribbean Cup and a 1-0 win in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2003, followed by a 2-2 draw and a goalless draw in 2007, and 2008 friendly internationals.
For the 2023 Gold Cup preliminary draw which was carried out using a single-blind system and one pot and based on the CONCACAF rankings as of March 31, 2023, the teams participating in the prelims were seeded into a Round One matchup or placed in Pot One, as follows Round One matchups (six highest-ranked teams): T&T (#1), Martinique (#2), Curaçao (#3), French Guiana (#4), Suriname (#5), and Guyana (#6), and today, they will be drawn against one of the teams from Pot One (Six lowest ranked teams) in Guadeloupe, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia, Grenada, Puerto Rico, and Sint Maarten for the first round of the preliminary round playoffs.
The Soca Warriors were forced to contest the preliminary round of qualification for the second straight Gold Cup campaign to qualify for the Gold Cup main draw group stage after failing to qualify directly from their four-team CONCACAF Nations League B Group C round-robin home-and-away series last month.
Eve’s men entered their final League B Group C match against table leaders Nicaragua at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Bacolet, Tobago needing a win to secure the top spot in the group, promotion to League A of the CONCACAF Nations League, and automatic qualification to the Gold Cup.
However, Eve’s men could only muster a 1-1 draw to end with 13 points, one behind Nicaragua to miss out on being among the 12 automatic qualifiers for the 2023 Gold Cup, alongside Qatar, League A group winners: Canada, Mexico, Panama, and the USA, the four League A runners-up Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Jamaica along with the League B group winning quartet of Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, and Nicaragua.
Guadeloupe finished second to Cuba in their CONCACAF Nations League B Group A series with three wins and as many defeats in six matches for nine points, six behind the table toppers and just ahead of Antigua & Barbuda on goal difference while Barbados ended in cellar-placed with three points.
In the other preliminary round match-ups, Martinique was pitted against St Lucia coached by former T&T World Cup striker with the winner to meet Suriname and Puerto Rico for a place in Group C alongside the Central American trio of Costa Rica, Panama, and El Salvador, while the third and final preliminary round pairings see Curacao and St Kitts/Nevis winners meeting French Guiana and Sint Martin winner for a place in Group A where USA, Jamaica, and Nicaragua awaits.
Group B of the main draw will feature Mexico, Hait, Honduras, Asian Champions and guest nation, Qatar.
The 17th edition of the Gold Cup is scheduled to take place between June 16 - July 16, 2023, with the Final at SoFi Stadium, on Sunday, July 16, which will crown CONCACAF’s best men’s national team and will conclude two months of elite football in the region that also include the 2023 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League Final and 2022/23 CONCACAF Nations League Finals.
T&T qualified to the Gold Cup preliminary qualifiers as a League B second-place finisher with French Guiana, Guadeloupe, and Guyana, together with League A third-place finishers, Curaçao, Grenada, Martinique, and Suriname, and League C group winners Puerto Rico, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia, and Sint Maarten.