Martinique vs. Nicaragua
2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup - Group B, Matchday 1
Nissan Stadium - Nashville, Tennessee
Saturday, July 8 – 7 pm ET
WATCH: FS2 and UDN in USA; TSN GO in Canada
Soccer can be unpredictable, but the US national team and Panama are widely expected to take the top two spots in Group B. If that proves to be the case, underdogs Martinique and Nicaragua will have to hope that a third-place finish is enough to move them onto the knockout phase.
That makes their meeting against one another extremely important. Picking up a win means dreams of getting out of the group stage remain alive. Losing, however, could crush them altogether before the tournament gets past the first round of games.
This is not the first time Martinique have qualified for the Gold Cup. This will be their fifth appearance in the regional tournament, but they will be hoping this one ends with them at least matching their best performance of reaching the quarterfinals in the 2002 edition.
There might not be very many recognizable names on the squad, but one player who will help lead the way is the Seattle Sounders' Jordy Delem (pictured above). The versatile Delem helped Martinique finish in fourth place in last month's Caribbean Cup, so there should be plenty of confidence and some experience within him and the rest of the group heading into this competition.
MARTINIQUE 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Loic Chauvet (CS Case-Pilote / MTQ), Kevin Olimpa (Platanias FC / GRE), Emmanuel Vermignon (Club Colonial / MTQ)
Defenders (7): Sebastien Cretinoir (Golden Lion de Saint-Joseph / MTQ), Jordy Delem (Seattle Sounders / USA), Gerald Dondon (Club Colonial / MTQ), Antoine Jean-Baptiste (FC Villefranche / FRA), Florian Narcissot (Club Franciscain / MTQ), Karl Vitulin (AS Samaritaine / MTQ), Nicolas Zaire (Club Franciscain / MTQ)
Midfielders (6): Stephane Abaul (Club Franciscain / MTQ), Daniel Herelle (Golden Lion de Saint-Joseph / MTQ), Christof Jougon (Club Franciscain / MTQ), Djenhael Mainge (Club Franciscain / MTQ), Jean-Manuel Nedra (Aiglon du Lamentin / MTQ), Yann Thimon (Golden Lion de Saint-Joseph / MTQ)
Forwards (7): Anthony Angely (Poitiers FC / FRA), Yoann Arquin (Mansfield Town / ENG), Johan Audel (Beitar Jerusalem / ISR), Steeven Langil (Waasland-Beveren / BEL), Johnny Marajo (Club Franciscain / MTQ), Kevin Parsemain (Golden Lion de Saint-Joseph / MTQ), Gregory Pastel (RC Riviere-Pilote / MTQ)
Manager: Louis Marianne (France)
It was far from easy for Nicaragua to get to the Gold Cup, but here they are after winning a two-legged playoff against Haiti that included one of the most dramatic finishes that you might have ever seen or read about.
Nicaragua looked ready to miss out on the tournament after falling, 3-1, to Haiti on the road and going scoreless through 81 minutes of the return match. The Nicaraguans dug deep, however, and scored three goals in the final eight minutes to win the second leg, 3-0, and the series, 4-3.
Now, the focus is to build on that. Nicaragua have never made it past the group stage of the Gold Cup, but are hoping this is year that changes. Who could blame them, too, after they pulled off the improbable just to get to this point?
NICARAGUA 23-PLAYER SQUAD
Goalkeepers (3): Justo Lorente (UNAN FC / NCA), Henry Maradiaga (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Diedrich Tèllez (Diriangen FC / NCA)
Defenders (8): Luis Copete (Comerciantes Unidos / PER), Cyril Errington (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Oscar Lòpez (Managua FC / NCA), Henry Niño (Jaco Rays FC / CRC), Josue Quijano (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Manuel Rosas (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Erick Tellez (Diriangen FC / NCA), Bismarck Vèliz (Chinandega FC / NCA)
Midfielders (8): Daniel Cadena (Njarðvíkur / ISL), Elvis Figueroa (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Luis Galeano (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Bryan Garcia (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Marlon Lòpez (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Maykel Montiel (UNAN FC / NCA), Bismarck Montiel (Managua FC / NCA), Luis Peralta (CD Walter Ferretti / NCA)
Forwards (4): Juan Barrera (Comunicaciones FC / GUA), Carlos Chavarria (Real Estelí FC / NCA), Jorge Hurtado (CD Walter Ferretti / NCA), Eulises Pavon (CD Suchitepéquez / GUA)
Manager: Henry Duarte (Costa Rica)