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Thursday, September 18, 2008

UNCAF Nations Cup 2009 suggestion

For those who don't know yet, the UNCAF Nations Cup is a biennial football tournament for the member asssociations of UNCAF (Union Centroamericana de FĂștbol).

There are 7 nations in UNCAF (in alphabetical order): Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. With 7 teams, they always have a group of four teams and one of three.

In 2007, UNCAF considered inviting national teams from outside Central America to participate. They did start negociations with Mexico and Venezuela, but it did not happen.

If UNCAF still want to have 8 teams in the 2009 edition, let's see who should they invite.

I don't think it's a good idea to have guest teams - sure, they could raise the interest level of the competition, but they have nothing to play for as they won't be fighting to qualify for the 2009 Gold Cup as the seven UNCAF nations.

James Lagrange suggested inviting the Caribbean champion (winners of the 2008 Digicel Football Championships) as it could create some rivalry with the UNCAF nations. However, they would be already qualified when the Nations Cup kicks off in Panama on January 22nd, 2009.

How about inviting the 5th placed team from the 2008 Digicel Football Championships and give them another shot at qualification? It's really up to UNCAF - they could have a more interesting tournament, but at the same time they could risk losing a Gold Cup spot if the Caribbean nation makes it into the top 5.

Since there are two groups of four teams and the top two from each group qualify for the 2009 Gold Cup, there would be a play-off involving the third placed teams. Last time around, it would have been Guyana vs. Martinique. Now you could have Cuba vs. Martinique (looking at the Caribbean ELO Ratings).

Assuming Cuba wins the play-off, you could see these groups in Panama:

Group A: Panama, Guatemala, Cuba, Belize
Group B: Costa Rica, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua


  1. Personally I don't like the idea of "Guest" team in a continental competition or continental qualifying. In the past at gold cup level too there were invitated teams, but fortunally they left it.
    If they purpose is to increase the level of the competition, I don't think the invitation of a caribbean team a good idea. The level of best UNCAF teams is higer than best Caribbeans.
    Mexico would be the logical solution because it has geografical membership in the UNCAF area and the team is very strong. In any case I think that places for gold cup must be awarded only to UNCAF nations.
    I have to do another reflexion:
    Uncaf and Caribbean Championships are considered as continental qualifying competitions (2.5 multiplying factor for FIFA ranking). I do not understand why the matches of the AFC Challenge Cup (that award an Asian Cup place from 2008 edition) are not considered as the same instead of "Friendly" matches. This has a considerable impact in the FIFA ranking for the teams involved, i.e. Korea D.P.R lost a relevant number of positions after the 2008 AFC challenge cup because the five wins against teams with very low ranking (all after the 150th position) with the multiplying factor of 1.0 brings a number of points very low...
    This is why I don't like FIFA ranking system: if a team play a great number of friendly we can see his ranking much lower.

  2. @jos235

    I did write to FIFA about the AFC Challenge Cup status and here is the reply:

    While we can follow your line of argumentation please note that the AFC Challenge Cup will continue to be rated as 'friendly' (like other regional competions with developmental character elsewhere in the world). The one Asian Nations Cup spot at stake is regarded as a bonus with the vast majority of participants coming through the one and only preliminary competition.

    The UNCAF/CFU nations have no other road to the Gold Cup.

    Going back to the UNCAF suggestion. I never liked the idea of inviting teams that don't have anything to fight for.

    Perhaps they could throw Mexico, Canada and the US into the mix and have 8 placed available for the Gold Cup. :)

  3. yes in this manner all Concacaf teams will have to play for the qualification but we will have 8 qualification places for Gold Cup for 10 teams. There would be 2 groups of 5 teams and top 4 of each group will advance...

    Some time ago I made the same request about AFC Challenge Cup using the form in FIFA web-site but I didn't obtain any answer...

  4. Probably inviting only Canada would be a better idea, avoiding groups of 5. And Canada is better than the 5th placed CFU team (at least on paper).

    Well, it was just a suggestion anyway. It's not like they're going to do it :D

  5. Actually, the best way would be playing a round-robin-6-matches tournament, with 3 home and 3 away games.

    No invitations whatsoever...

  6. Not all countries can afford the travel (Nicaragua and Belize for instance).