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  • 05 / 23 / 2007

Fresh off a series of tune-up games in Chile, the Cuban national soccer squad resumed the last leg of its training Monday in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup that gets under way in June in the United States.

Coach Raul Gonzalez Triana told Granma that this weekend the team will make public the definitive 18-player roster for the Gold Cup. The Cubans will play in New Jersey and Houston; venues of Group C play with Mexico, Panama and Honduras. Group C is considered by many to be the strongest of the tournament. Cuba opens against Mexico on June 8.

Gonzalez Triana said the recent tour of Chile was a success and helped make the decision on the final line-up. During the tune-up, the Cuban team lost 0-3 and 0-2 against the Chile National B selection coached by Nelson Acosta. They tied 1-1 with Osorno and beat Temuco 2-1, both clubs from the First Division B.

The Cuban coach said that despite cold temperatures (between two and four degrees Celsius) the team gradually improved. "In our last match against Chile, we played better, but we were once again hurt by our naiveté. The Chileans scored their first goal when our defence stopped running down the ball and they took away space from us."

Coach Acosta told Gonzalez Triana that Cuba could go far in the Gold Cup if it plays as it did in its last match against Chile.

"We are going to play without any hang-ups," said Coach Gonzalez Triana, whose CONCACAF Gold Cup will be his second international tournament since he was appointed to head the national selection last year.

As he waits for one last warm-up match before leaving to the United States, Gonzalez Triana says that in the remaining two weeks before the tournament, he will focus on definition and tactics, especially defensive strategies with a priority on the first match.

Meanwhile, Mexico will meet the national squads from Iran and Paraguay on June 2 and 5 in preparation for the tournament under new head coach and Mexican soccer legend Hugo Sanchez.

Sanchez has called up the best from inside and outside the country, including Rafa Marquez who plays for Barcelona and will join Mexico if they make it to the semi-finals.

In Panama, soccer fans are still reeling from the 4-0 pounding from Colombia and the 3-0 loss against Haiti, which also beat Honduras 3-1. Honduras continues its Gold Cup preparation under Coach Reinaldo Rueda in a friendly match against Venezuela on May 25 and versus Trinidad Tobago on June 2, before travelling to the US.

Source: By Miguel Hernández, Granma

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