November 17, 2006

Second round of Digicel Caribbean Cup looks promising

Cuba surrendered their 100 per cent record in the Digicel Caribbean Cup this year but still managed to top the opening second round Group I on goal difference with a 0-0 draw with host nation Martinique, Sunday.

Both sides showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in Trinidad in January with some fine team performances throughout the 3 games each played over the past week.{{more}}

The standard of play was so, that people in Trinidad have quite a feat of football to look forward if the level of these two teams is anything to go by.

In contrast to the preceding game between Haiti and Suriname this match between two sides who had both already qualified provided more open and attacking football. The first real chance of the game came Cuba’s way when on 23 minutes Jaime Valencia’s thunderous free kick was finger tipped around the post by Martinique keeper Heurlie. It seemed the vicious shot from 27yards out was destined to settle in the bottom right hand corner but Heurlie provided a strong right hand for Martinique to keep parity.

With half time fast approaching both sides began to pass and move the ball a bit more fluidly and indeed just before the break an audacious overhead flick volley by Martinique’s Xavier Bullet was unlucky not to leave Cuban keeper Hernandez red faced as he was caught in no man’s land, and, while back pedaling to goal, saw Bullet’s attempt bounce off his crossbar and wide.

The second half was only two minutes old when Martinique captain Percin wasted a most glorious opportunity to open the deadlock. After a delightful left wing run and cross by Jose Goron, Patrick Percin was left 8 yards from goal all alone with a great chance. However, to the dismay of the 5,000 strong home crowd, his down ward diving header bounced harmlessly over the Cuban cross bar.

Cuba stepped up a gear from there and should have taken the lead after Renier Nunez played a delicate one two with Cervantes to go through on goal but found no way past the formidable Heurlie in the Martinique goal.

Cuba looked very impressive with their quick movement and precise passing and seemed to be pulling away from the home side but on 75 minutes the tide turned again and when the big Martinique substitute striker Goron rose like a salmon between the two Cuban centre halfs he was most unlucky to see his bullet header saved well by Hernandez in the Cuban goal.

In the end it remained 0-0 and both sides go through to the Digicel Caribbean Cup finals in Trinidad unbeaten in the second round.