Andy Baquero - Cuba - 2019 Gold Cup
USA Today Sports

Report: Five Cuba national team players defect during Nations League

Three players who featured in Cuba's 6-0 loss to Canada in Concacaf Nations League play at BMO Field on Saturday have reportedly departed the team to defect.

El Nuevo Herald reported on Sunday defender Alejandro Portal, who played 90 minutes in the loss, midfielder Andy Baquero (pictured above), who played 79 minutes, and attacker Yordan Santa Cruz, who also went the distance in the match, were missing from the squad after the game.

Baquero and Santa Cruz, both 25, were part of the team that qualified for the 2013 U-20 World Cup in Turkey, the first team in the country's history to achieve that feat. 

All told, the departures make five from Cuba's current squad for the opening of the Nations League, after David Urgelles and Orlendiz Benitez physically left the squad before Saturday's game. Cuba will host Canada in their home leg of League A, Group A play, Tuesday in the Cayman Islands after FIFA did not sanction Cuba's national soccer stadium, the Estadio Pedro Marrero.

That brings the reported total number of players to defect to 44 over the last 17 years, including four during this summer's Concacaf Gold Cup. 

Cuba will also face the US national team in a two-game set in Nations League group stage play on Oct. 11 and Nov. 19.


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