Cuba, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname remain in hunt for top spots at U-20 qualifiers

By Sports Desk March 01, 2024

Spanish-speak Caribbean nation Cuba joined Central Americans El Salvador and Guatemala on the verge of progression to the Concacaf Men's Championships following their latest victories in their respective qualifying campaigns on Thursday.

Group A

Cuba edged Belize 1-0 at the Estadio Nacional in Managua, courtesy of Aniel Casanova 12th-minute strike, to pull level with host nation Nicaragua on nine points at the top of the group.

The other contest on the day saw British Virgin Islands (BVI) register their second win in a 3-1 beating of Anguilla.

Azarni Callwood (18th, 23rd, 89th) scored all three goals for BVI, while Jared Smeins (28th), pulled one back for Anguilla.

Group B

Guyana registered their first victory of the campaign when they edged Turks and Caicos Islands 2-1, at the ABFA Technical Centre in Piggots, Antigua and Barbuda.

 Ezekial Rowland's brace (32nd, 55th) was enough to get the job done for the Golden Jaguars, while Emmanuel Martin (90th) got on the scoresheet for Turks and Caicos Islands. Both teams are out of contention where topping the group is concerned.

The feature contest of the day ended with a massive three points for El Salvador, who blanked Suriname, 3-0.

Christopher Argueta (17th), Nestor Delgado (24th) and Kiano Casamalhuapa (66th) did the damage for El Salvador, who now sit atop the group on seven points, one point ahead of Antigua and Barbuda and Suriname, on six points each.

This makes things interesting heading into Saturday's final round of games, as Antigua and Barbuda will lock horns with El Salvador in a top-of-the-table clash, while Suriname will have the easier task against Turks and Caicos Islands. 

Victory for Suriname could propel them to the top, but only if the Antigua and Barbuda clash with El Salvador, end in a stalemate. 

Group C

Host nation Guatemala assumed pole position in the group with nine points, after a 4-0 win over Aruba, at the Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores in Guatemala City.

Rudy Munoz (8th), Daniel Mendez (24th, 37th), Matthew Evans (45th) and Axel De La Cruz (85th) gave the home crowd much to cheer about.

Guatemala are now two points ahead of Curacao, with both set to meet in the decisive contest on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Barbados registered a morale-boosting 4-2 win over St Martin to take some positive from their failed campaign.

Barbados's goals came from Xavier Webster (1st), Ethan Taylor (77th) and Khalil Vanderpool Nurse (80th, 90+1), while Jaheem Joe (42nd) and a Warren Trotman own goal (72nd) got St Martin's goals.

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