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  • 12 / 01 / 2006


By Ezra Stuart


IT WILL BE COU-COU versus CALLALOO in the Digicel Caribbean Cup football finals. Barbados will clash with host country Trinidad and Tobago in the opening match of the 2006-2007 eight-team finals, now kicking off at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, on January 12, just over two weeks before the original starting schedule.

The draw for the two groups and match schedule of the championship round was made at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port-of-Spain here yesterday and Barbados' name was the first pulled from the bag, inevitably pitting "The Bajan Pride" against their long-standing Caribbean sporting arch-rivals.

The Soca Warriors,
who secured an automatic berth in the finals as hosts, were seeded along with Cuba, the highest ranked team among the finalists at No. 46 in the world.

Also in the same group which bears the name of former Trinidad and Tobago national player, Sedley Joseph, are 1993 champions Martinique and the winner of the third-place qualifying round featuring Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Bermuda, who are hosting the group from December 12 to 16.

In the second group which carries the name of Bobby Sookram, Cuba will kick off their bid for their first ever Caribbean football title against Guadeloupe at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in San Fernando on January 14. The two other teams in this group, the rapidly-improving Guyana, the only team with a 100 per cent record in the preliminary rounds winning all six of their matches, and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

"I think we will give a good account of ourselves and I am sure that president Oliver Camps here will be surprised at our play on that first day," said former team manager Keith "Jolla" Barrow, who represented Barbados at the draw.

Barrow, also the senior vice-president of the Barbados Football Association, made it clear the Bajans were not worried about starting off against the eight-time champions before their home fans and were optimistic about reaching the semi-finals.

"I think that at this stage, we would prefer to play Trinidad rather than Cuba. Our record against Cuba is not as good as against Trinidad," he added.

Barrow said Barbados had a good record coming into the finals having played unbeaten in two separate groups, and winning both with four wins and two draws in the six games.

"We are happy to be in the finals. I think we played for what we have achieved. After Guyana, I think Barbados have the best record in the preliminaries," he noted. Guyana, Cuba and Barbados are the only unbeaten teams in the finals while Trinidad and Tobago did not have to go through the qualifying rounds as host country.

President of the Caribbean Football Union and CONCACAF boss, Austin "Jack" Warner, who assisted with the draw, said he was delighted with the

"The teams are equally divided. It will give the spectators a real chance to see each group and good matches. There won't be any easy matches as is normally the case," Warner said.

The teams will be vying for a record first prize of US$120 000 with $70 000 to the runners-up, a further $50 000 for third place and $30 000 for fourth position. The Top 4 teams will also automatically qualify for next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States in June.

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