The 2010 Caribbean Cup or Copa Caribe, now called the Digicel Caribbean Cup, is on the last stretch today, December 5, 2010, with finals in Martinique. The final four teams–Cuba, Grenada, Guadeloupe, and Jamaica–automatically qualify for the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2011. The Spice Islander reports that, coincidentally, this year’s final is a mirror situation to The Digicel Cup final four from 2008. Meanwhile, the Jamaica Observer quotes Jamaica’s head coach Theodore Whitmore, as his Reggae Boyz seek first place when they oppose Guadeloupe at 7:00pm at the Pierre Aliker Stadium: “We came here for five tough games and we have only completed four, so there is one more to go.” In the third-place play-off at 4:00pm, semi-finalists Cuba and Grenada meet at the same venue.
As current champions, the Jamaica Reggae Boyz are one of the tournament favorites and is the only team in the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup tournament with a perfect win record after 3-1, 2-0, and 4-0 triumphs over Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, and Guyana, respectively in the group phase. They then edged Grenada 2-1 in extra time in the semi-finals on Friday. The Jamaican players are looking very strong for a place in the Digicel Cup final and even retaining their championship title. There are four Reggae Boyz players up for the “Digicel Player of the Tournament” award, and Luton Shelton and Marvin Morgan joint top at the leader board for the “Digicel Golden Boot” prize.
Former semi-finalists at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Guadeloupe, got off to a shaky start in Group I with a 1-1 draw against a weak Guyana side, followed by a 2-0 loss to Jamaica. However, the Gwada Boys came back to beat Antigua & Barbuda 1-0 and secure their place in the final four. Guadeloupe will certainly have strong local support today from the people of Martinique and the many Guadeloupeans living here. Guadeloupe captain Stephane Auvray declared that the Gwada Boys are already winners, so there will be no pressure on them to win the game. “Come Sunday the final will be a different game because we have already qualified for the Gold Cup, so the pressure is not the same… we will try to win the Digicel Caribbean Cup. [. . .] We have already met our objective, so now it is like bonus, we just trying to go as far as we can and we hope to win and go back to Guadeloupe with the Cup.” As the sole French Caribbean team left in the tournament, Auvray is sure the Martinique fans will come out to support them against the tournament favorites, as they did during the semi-finals against Cuba. “I think the people will be backing us because they are happy to see a French-Caribbean island up in the final and I think they will be here tomorrow to back us as much as they can and they expect us to win that game.” He said his team is motivated, they want to have fun, and if they were to be crowned champions that would be good, but if not, then that would be the nature of football.
Cuba are the pretenders to the crown and have been in fine form both in their qualifying Group G, where they were unbeaten, surpassed only by their impressive form when they reached the Digicel Finals tournament. The Cuba team has competed in the final four in the past three Digicel Cup Finals tournaments; therefore, as the Spice Islander states, “they are no strangers to the pressures of this game” and aspire to being crowned Digicel champions.
Although all four teams have qualified to the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2011, the distribution of the highest prize money for football in the CONCACAF region at US$270,000 is yet to be determined. The finalists will be vying for US$120,000 first prize and US$70,000 for second place, while the third-place play-off teams will compete for US$50,000 and US$30,000.
All matches from the Digicel Caribbean Cup Finals 2010 will be aired live throughout the Caribbean along with coverage on Fox Television in North America. Live streaming–as well as radio commentary–is available on www.digicelfootball.com.
For up-to-date information on every match and event relating to the Digicel Caribbean Cup, see www.digicelfootball.com