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Costa Rica’s Ramirez aims to repeat personal Azteca history

Thursday Mar 23, 2017

Costa Rica’s Ramirez aims to repeat personal Azteca history


Head coach Oscar Ramirez (pictured) has Costa Rica atop the CONCACAF Hexagonal table after two rounds of games. (Photo: Victor Straffon/Straffon Images)

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica – Costa Rica head coach Oscar Ramirez is one of the rare individuals with an ability to say that he has a perfect record as the visiting manager at Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca.

In his lone match at the famed venue, Ramirez led Alajuelense to a 1-0 win over Club America on the last week of 2013/14 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League group-stage play.  The result eliminated the host from the competition and confirmed the Manudos’ place in the quarterfinals.

Now in charge of Costa Rica, Ramirez will be looking to achieve a similar feat on Friday, when his team faces Mexico on matchday three in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.  The Ticos (2W-0D-0L, 6 points) top the Hexagonal table with maximum points from two games, while Mexico is second with four points.

“They are different circumstances,” said Ramirez at a Wednesday press conference, after being asked about the momentous triumph against Club America.  “What it was with [Alajuelense] was a group that had been coming together.  The boys had a great performance.”

While Ramirez was hesitant to say that his experience of winning at the Azteca could be a factor Friday, the former Costa Rica international believes his squad is well prepared for the encounter.

“They are always different things, in that moment it was a team and it was difficult because it was to play against America,” the 52-year-old finished.  “I feel that now years have gone by, I think studying the opponent gives you tranquility of taking the match as it comes.  We have done serious study and we have sent that to the player.”


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WCQ Game Guide: USA v Honduras

WCQ Game Guide: USA v Honduras



USA forward Clint Dempsey (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Honduras in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the last game between the sides. (Photo: Mexsport)

CONCACAF Qualifying — Final Round, Matchday 3

Date: March 24, 2017
Match: USA v Honduras
Venue: Avaya Stadium – San Jose, California, USA
Time: 11:00 p.m. ET


USA: Timothy Chandler, Jermaine Jones
Honduras: none

USA leads: 5W-2D-1L (13GF, 10GA)

February 6, 2013: Honduras 2, USA 1
Juan Carlos Garcia 40′; Jerry Bengtson 79′ / Clint Dempsey 36’

Honduras: WLDWW


USA (Overall record: 4W-1D-3L … 21GF, 9GA)
13.11.15 USA v St. Vincent & the Grenadines 6-1
17.11.15 Trinidad & Tobago v USA 0-0
25.03.16 Guatemala v USA 2-0
29.03.16 USA v Guatemala 4-0
02.09.16 St. Vincent & the Grenadines v USA 0-6
06.09.16 USA v Trinidad & Tobago 4-0
11.11.16 USA v Mexico 1-2
15.11.16 Costa Rica v USA 4-0

Honduras (Overall record: 3W-2D-3L … 9GF, 8GA)
13.11.15 Canada v Honduras 1-0
17.11.15 Honduras v Mexico 2-0
25.03.16 El Salvador v Honduras 2-2
29.03.16 Honduras v El Salvador 2-0
02.09.16 Honduras v Canada 2-1
06.09.16 Mexico v Honduras 0-0
11.11.16 Honduras v Panama 0-1
15.11.16 Honduras v Trinidad & Tobago 3-1


USA: Jozy Altidore (6); Bobby Wood (3); Geoff Cameron, Sacha Kljestan, Cristian Pulisic (2); Paul Arriola, Matt Besler, Clint Dempsey, Fabian Johnson, Gyasi Zardes, Graham Zusi (1)

Honduras: Romell Quioto (3); Alberth Elis, Oscar Garcia, Eddie Hernandez, Emilio Izaguirre, Antony Lozano, Mario Martinez (1)


USA: The USA sits last in the final round after opening the Hexagonal with two straight defeats for the first-ever time, falling to Mexico (1-2, home) and Costa Rica (0-4, away). Against Mexico, the Americans lost at home in a World Cup qualifier for the first time in 34 years. The result ended a string of four straight 2-0 triumphs by the Americans over their southern neighbor at MAPFRE Stadium in CONCACAF qualifying. That setback was followed by a stunning loss at Costa Rica, which saw the Ticos net three times in during an eight-minute, second-half stretch.

Honduras: Honduras opened final-round play with a 1-0 loss to visiting Panama on November 11, 2016. Fidel Escobar scored the only goal in the 22nd minute, when his right-footed free kick from 22-yards out took a slight deflection off Honduras’ Romell Quioto before hitting the back of the net. The Catrachos had two chances to equalize in the 57th minute, but Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo saved efforts from Diego Reyes and Alberth Elis.


– Played in every World Cup from Italy 1990 through Brazil 2014 … longest active streak by any CONCACAF side.
– Holds record for most Hexagonal wins (29) and most first-place finishes (3).
– Scored most goals in fourth-round WCQ play (20 … Guatemala #2 with 18).
– 7-0-0 in last seven competitive matches (CONCACAF Gold Cup & WCQ) played in USA v Honduras.

– Qualified for three FIFA World Cups, including the last two (1982, 2010, 2014).
– Has never won more than five games in three previous Hexagonal appearances.
– Conceded one goal or fewer in five consecutive WCQs.
– Competing in fourth Hexagonal.


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2017 Caribbean Club Championship teams, groups & schedule announced

2017 Caribbean Club Championship teams, groups & schedule announced

MIAMI – CONCACAF announced Monday the clubs, groups and schedule for the 2017 Caribbean Club Championship.

A record 20 sides from 11 countries – headed by Trinidad & Tobago’s Central FC, the two-time defending champion – qualified for the 19th edition of the competition, which will determine the region’s representatives to the next edition of the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

The first round consists of five groups of four teams, which will play a round-robin format from late February through March.  Greenbay Hoppers FC (Antigua & Barbuda), Don Bosco FC (Haiti), Montego Bay United FC (Jamaica), Central FC (Trinidad & Tobago) and System 3 Sport Academy (St. Vincent & the Grenadines) will host the group stage.

Group Stage Venues:

Group A: Antigua Recreation Ground – St. John’s, Antigua & Barbuda,
Group B: Stade Sylvio Cator – Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Group C: Montego Bay Sports Complex – Montego Bay, Jamaica
Group D: Ato Boldon Stadium. – Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
Group E: Victoria Park – Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

The five group winners will advance to the final round, scheduled to be played from May 13-21.

The Caribbean Club Championship has been contested annually since 1997 (with the exception of 1999 and 2008), when United Petrotrin of Trinidad & Tobago captured the inaugural title.  A champion has been crowned 16 times, with DirecTV W Connection, also of Trinidad & Tobago, lifting the trophy a record three times.

Besides Central FC, the 2017 field includes two former Caribbean champions: San Juan Jabloteh (Trinidad & Tobago) and Portmore United (Jamaica).  Additionally, Transvaal, a past CONCACAF club champion (1973, 1981) qualified for the event as runner-up in the 2015/16 Surinamese league.

2017 Caribbean Club Championship Participating teams (alphabetical order)

Bequia United FC (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
Central FC (Trinidad & Tobago)
Cibao FC (Dominican Republic)
Club Barcelona Atletico (Dominican Republic)
Club Sportif Moulien (Guadeloupe)
Don Bosco FC (Haiti)
Elite Sport Club (Cayman Islands)
Flames United SC (Sint Maarten)
Greenbay Hoppers FC (Antigua & Barbuda)
Grenades FC (Antigua & Barbuda)
Inter Moengo Tapoe (Suriname)
Montego Bay United FC (Jamaica)
Police FC (Montserrat)
Portmore United FC (Jamaica)
Racing FC des Gonaives (Haiti)
San Juan Jabloteh FC (Trinidad & Tobago)
Scholars International (Cayman Islands)
SV Transvaal (Suriname)
System 3 Sport Academy (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
USR Sainte‐Rose (Guadeloupe)

First Round Schedule

GROUP A (Antigua & Barbuda)
February 22, 2017
Racing FC v Inter Moengo Tapoe
Greenbay Hoppers v Bequia United FC

February 24, 2017
Bequia United FC v Racing FC
Greenbay Hoppers v Inter Moengo Tapoe

February 26, 2017
Inter Moengo Tapoe v Bequia United FC
Greenbay Hoppers v Racing FC

GROUP B (Haiti)
March 1, 2017

Police FC v Cibao FC
Don Bosco FC v USR Sainte-Rose

March 3, 2017
Cibao FC v USR Sainte-Rose
Don Bosco FC v Police FC

March 5, 2017
USR Sainte-Rose v Police FC
Don Bosco FC v Cibao FC

GROUP C (Jamaica)
March 1, 2017
Club Barcelona Atletico v Elite Sport Club
Montego Bay United FC v Grenades FC

March 3, 2017
Grenades FC v Club Barcelona Atletico
Montego Bay United FC v Elite Sport Club

March 5, 2017
Elite Sport Club v Grenades FC
Montego Bay United FC v Club Barcelona Atletico

GROUP D (Trinidad & Tobago)
March 8, 2017
Scholars International v Portmore United FC
Central FC v SV Transvaal

March 10, 2017
Portmore United FC v SV Transvaal
Central FC v Scholars International

March 12, 2017
SV Transvaal v Scholars International
Central FC v Portmore United FC

GROUP E (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)
March 8, 2017
Flames United SC v San Juan Jabloteh
System 3 Sport Academy v Club Sportif Moulien

March 10, 2017
San Juan Jabloteh v Club Sportif Moulien
System 3 Sport Academy v Flames United SC

March 12, 2017
Club Sportif Moulien v Flames United SC
System 3 Sport Academy v San Juan Jabloteh


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Hero CPL’s St. Lucia team announces its new brand identity
The Hero Caribbean Premier League’s St. Lucia Zouks has launched a new visual and brand identity known as St. Lucia Stars with a logo that is inspired from the home country of the team, St. Lucia.

The new logo and the identity is meant to give the team, St. Lucia Stars, a new bold and vibrant identity. The decision comes from the franchise owners and management who decided to rebrand the name, keeping in mind the line-up of the team’s superstars.

The Chairman of the franchise, Jay Pandya, who leads this change said, “We wanted the identity to represent St. Lucia and anyone who supports the team associates with the traits of being St. Lucian. When we were making the decision to bring this change and we were looking for inspiration, we just had to look within and bring out the spirit of St. Lucia. They are stars in every might and proud to be Born Lucians.” He feels positive and looks forward to this year’s CPL.

The design of the logo stems from the home country of the team. Three core elements that form the logo are The World Heritage Pitons, the colour of the flag and the cheer – Born Lucian. The Pitons signify the height this team can achieve and the impact it can have on the people of Saint Lucia. The colours of the flag are splashed on the logo which everyone around the globe associates with St. Lucia.

St. Lucians are warm, welcoming and are deeply connected to their roots which is what makes them ideal global citizens of this world. They take pride in what they do and make sure they are the best while playing the sport in the right spirit. They also enjoy these moments to the fullest just like every proud St. Lucian does. The cheer – “Born Lucian” – captures this and the team represents these traits making them one of the most likeable teams in the Hero Caribbean Premier League.

The captain of the team, Daren Sammy, is excited about this new identity. He said, “We definitely want to live up to what the logo represents and play like stars as we look to win the CPL this season. Hopefully, this change will bring in good luck for us. To be “Born Lucian” means we take pride in what we do and we do it wholeheartedly. And we want this to resonate with our fans and make them feel proud.”


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Barbados-bound Dwayne Smith determined to regain Hero CPL title



Barbados-bound Dwayne Smith determined to regain Hero CPL title

Dwayne Smith believes that the Barbados Tridents are well placed to mount a charge to regain the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL). But the prodigal son, who transferred from Guyana Amazon Warriors in the close season, believes that this year will be the most competitive across all six franchises.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the Hero Player Draft which takes place in Barbados on Friday (10am local time), the West Indies international, who played in 33 T20 internationals has scored 1,061 Hero CPL career runs in 41 games for the Tridents and the Amazon Warriors to date, said that he is as motivated as ever to help the Tridents regain the title they last won in 2014.

During that season, the 33-year-old lit up the tournament top-scoring with an unbeaten 110 and chipped in with another century and a fifty to propel Kieron Pollard’s men to the title for the first time.

Looking ahead to the fifth instalment of the biggest party in sport, Smith said: “Winning competitions has always been my motivation. So, for me, to perform and get my team into a position where we can win a competition would be great. But yes, it is a challenge, because there are some other good teams around. I’m sure that St. Kitts (& Nevis Patriots) is going to be boosted by Chris Gayle, Trinidad (TKR) has always been good, St. Lucia is getting better.”

*In Part 2 of this exclusive interview, which will be released on Friday following the Player Draft, Dwayne talks about returning to Barbados, what it means to him and his insights on the squad.


The HERO Caribbean Premier League (CPL) is a franchise-based T20 format cricket tournament that combines two of the most compelling aspects of Caribbean life – dramatic cricket and a vibrant Carnival atmosphere. Over 149 million fans watched the 2016 season, combining broadcast and digital viewership, to make it one of the fastest growing leagues in world cricket. Jamaica Tallawahs are the current Hero CPL champions and the other competing teams are Barbados Tridents, Guyana Amazon Warriors, St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots, St. Lucia Stars and Trinbago Knight Riders.