THE CONCACAF Gold Cup is coming to the Caribbean for the very first time in 2019. The announcement was made by CONCACAF President Victor Montagliani who expressed pride in the hosting of an expanded competition.
The tournament, which T&T have already qualified for, will see matches held in the US, Central America and Caribbean. The first-ever 16-team Gold Cup has been hailed as a historic moment for the region by Montagliani who is pleased to bring the Gold Cup to all corners of CONCACAF.
“The venues selected thus far offer a mix of soccer history as well as a taste of the future of the sport in the U.S., and we are excited to work with the local host committees to bring the game to fans all over the U.S. With the upcoming selection of additional venues in the Caribbean and Central America, the Gold Cup becomes a regional event on even more levels, as CONCACAF continues to focus on making football accessible to more teams, players and fans,” he said.
The news was greeted with cautious optimism yesterday by TT Football Association (TTFA) President David-John Williams who is still recovering from a fall recently. When told of the new development, John-Williams declared, “It is an interesting prospect.”
Wayne Cunningham, Media Officer of TTFA, was also unaware of the changes in the structure of the Gold Cup but was extremely excited to hear matches will be held in the Caribbean.
“It will be a welcome thing for the region. The regional will finally get a taste of big football,” he said.
Cunningham, formerly head of the Eastern Football Association (EFA), said he has been to three Gold Cups in the past and was impressed with the organisation of the tournament.
With T&T and Jamaica viewed as the leading football countries in the Caribbean, Cunningham is keen to see which Caribbean nations are selected to host matches.
He said Caribbean fans will get to see their top players live competing at the highest level.
“It will be good for teams because for the Gold Cup you get your international players released from their clubs and they will get the chance to play in front their home crowd. You only get that for World Cup qualifiers (every four years) and on a FIFA international window but we still get trouble to get our best teams on those days,” he said.
Six teams have already qualified for the Gold Cup by virtue of reaching the hexagonal stage of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers – T&T, USA, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica and Honduras. The other 10 will qualify through the new CONCACAF Nations League.