Thursday, March 13, 2008
Surprise surprise. The Cuban national team has lost seven of their 18-man roster for the current CONCACAF Olympic Games qualifiers and itwo days later faced their Honduran counterparts with 10 men on the field (their 11th had been ejected in the prior game). So why all the fuss? Well, politics aside, the situation made the qualifiers very complicated in an unnecessary way. At one point you had the possibility of the team having to forfeit its games, which would given Honduras and Panama an unfair advantage of 3 points and 3 goals in favor. The US would be left with 1 point in what was increasingly being recognized as an unfair situation. Then there is the matter that the morning after the defectors left the Cuban camp, when the CONCACAF delegations got together to discuss the situation, the US contingent was nowhere to be found. I heard on XM Deportivo that the other delegations felt the US organization was up to its "looking-over-the-shoulder" ways in reference to the other (smaller) national teams. I must be fair to say that they also mentioned the FMF (Mexicans) opted for the same kind of gesture. In any case, the predicament at hand did not seem to influence USF directly, nor was any decisive action taken. Instead, the match with Honduras was allowed to proceed. In the end, however, Cuba's sports debauchery (in personal terms I can't blame the players) did not affect the final standings in group A. CONCACAF was able to go past this incident and will at least have it as a reminder/example for the future. In simple terms I don't think the Cuban team should have allowed to remain in the competition since this was detrimental to the players themselves. This is not a club tournament where we can easily scapegoat investors and technical directors and coaches alike. This was a competition with young players looking to show their capabilities in Beijing. And now we see that our final four are Honduras, Guatemala and the USA/Canada portion of the CONCACAF. Interesting. In terms of the USA having a lackluster showing and the incredible failure of the Mexican team to even get past the group stage, we're left with this question.... Regarding other teams (i.e. not USA or Mexico), are they that good or are we that bad? We'll get back to that question in the next blog.