Cuba in strongest group of Soccer Gold Cup
The captain of the Cuban soccer team, the central defender Yenier Márquez, said that there is a "contagious optimism" in the team of being able to advance to the second round of the Gold Cup, in United States. This is despite the lack of international games in the last few weeks and the days of training spoilt by heavy rain.
Márquez is one of the eleven men of the party that attended the last Gold Cup competition in 2005.
Cuba is considered the weakest team in group C, with stadiums in New Jersey and Houston. They qualified with Mexico, considered by many experts as the strongest in the contest, favorites to win their fifth title; Panama, effective second best, and Honduras.
The Caribbeans will open up on June 8 against Mexico who have called in main figures from their potent professional league, among them fifteen who went to the World Cup in Germany.
Six of their famous players play abroad, like Cuauthemoc Blanco (Chicago Fire), Nery Castillo (Olimpiakos, Greece), Rafael Márquez (Barcelona, Spain), Ricardo Osorio and Pavel Pardo (Stuttgart, Germany) and Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven, Holland).
Honduras has seven "foreigners": the defenders Edgar Álvarez (Messina, Italy), and Jorge S. Caballeros (Changchun Yatay, China), midfielders, Iván Guerrero (Chicago Fire), Amado Guerra (Chivas, USA) and Julio Caesar León (Genoa, Italy) and forwards, Carlos Costil (GKS Belchatow, Poland) and Walter Martínez (Shanghai Shenhua, China).
Panama has enlisted a "foreign legion" made up of goalkeeper Jaime Penedo (Osasuna, Spain), backs, Felipe Baloy (Monterrey, Mexico), Román Torres (La Equidad, Colombia), Luis Moreno (Santa Fe, Colombia), wingers, Gabriel Gómez (Santa Fe, Colombia), Victor Herrera (Islanders, Puerto Rico) and Juan Ramón Solís (Aguilla, El Salvador); and the forwards, Roberto Brown (Colorado, Rapids), José Luis Garcés (OS Belenenses, Portugal), Nicolás Muñoz (Aguilla, El Salvador) and Blas Pérez (Cucuta, Colombia).
Cuba is the only team in that group with no overseas players. Group A, in Miami, is made up by Costa Rica, Canada, Haiti and Guadalupe; and B (Los Angeles and Boston), by the USA, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago and El Salvador.
Source: By Miguel Hernández, Granma