Curacao earn spot in Gold Cup knockout rounds for the first time

The side had never scored a goal in the regional tournament before 2019, but pulled off a stunning draw with Jamaica to earn a quarterfinal spot

The Gold Cup has seen its share of upsets in recent times, but the 2019 tournament has produced arguably the most shocking group result in the history of the competition.  

Curacao, a regional minnow with no history to speak of in the Gold Cup, has advanced to the knockout rounds thanks to a 1-1 draw with Jamaica coupled with Honduras beating El Salvador.

Entering the tournament Curacao had never scored a goal in the Gold Cup and they was given little chance of making noise in the 2019 tournament, having been drawn in Group C alongside a Jamaica outfit thought to be a dark horse contender along with a Honduras side that qualified for the World Cup as recently as 2014.  

A 1-0 loss to El Salvador in the Group C opener set the Caribean side off to a poor start, but it all turned around on matchday two.  

Leandro Bacuna ‘s 40th minute goal against Honduras was the first ever scored for his nation at the Gold Cup, and a strong defensive showing was enough to earn the side a 1-0 win over the Hondurans.  

Then came the group finale against heavily favored Jamaica on Tuesday night.  

The Reggae Boyz looked likely to run away with the match in the early going as chance after chance went begging before Shamar Nicholson broke through just 14 minutes in.  

But Jamaica could not add to that tally, as Curacao continued to fight off one attacking push after another as they waited for a moment of magic to bring them back into the match. 

Jurien Gaari would provide it three minutes into stoppage time, helping his side to a 1-1 draw.  

There was still the matter of needing a bit of help from Honduras in the second match of the night, however.  

Los Catrachos did not disappoint.  

Despite struggling for goals through the first two group matches, Honduras turned on the style against El Salvador, putting four past Los Cuscatlecos, handing Curacao the result it needed to earn a place in the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time.  

Curacao moves on as the second-place team in Group C and will face the top side from Group D in the last eight, with the opponent to be decided on Wednesday when the U.S. national team takes on Panama.  

Both teams come into Wednesday’s match with two wins from two, though the USA holds the advantage should the two sides play to a draw. 

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