Honduras face Jamaica and El Salvador meet Curacao as Group C gets underway at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Monday. Both games will take place at Kingston’s National Stadium, with Honduras usually a force thanks to their experience and quality.
While Honduras can call on Celtic left-back Emilio Izaguirre and Houston Dynamo defender Maynor Figueroa, Jamaica will be led by gifted Bayer Leverkusen forward Leon Bailey.
There is less star power involved in the Curacao and El Salvador match. However, Jaime Alas is the creative fulcrum for the latter, while the former rely on Cardiff City winger Leandro Bacuna and Everton full-back Cuco Martina for inspiration.
Curacao’s ranks are loaded with a host of players from across Europe, including Bacuna and Martina. The latter hasn’t played much for the Toffees in recent seasons, but he’s still a raiding full-back who can be an invaluable outlet in the final third.
Martina’s combination with Bacuna gives Curacao enough pace and power to get behind the El Salvador defence early and often. The Cardiff man’s direct running will cause problems, but the 27-year-old needs to get the final ball right.
If the supply is consistent from wide areas, a Curacao forward line featuring Jafar Arias and Charlison Benschop will do enough to earn a memorable win.
Honduras will also score a notable victory provided Izaguirre and Figueroa can keep Bailey quiet. The versatile forward can strike from multiple angles and is deadly from set-pieces:
Fortunately, Honduras have their own danger man up top in the form of Alberth Elis. A star of Major League Soccer, the Houston Dynamo striker is a powerhouse who can bully defenders and is agile enough to spin in behind.
If Honduras can keep things close for an hour or so, Elis has the instincts in the box to take a chance when it comes his way.
Jamaica will open their Gold Cup campaign with a meeting with Honduras. The game will take place at Independence Stadium in the Jamaican capitol Kingston on Monday. The hosts best achievement was reaching the final of the tournament in its two previous editions, but lost both matches to Mexico and USA respectively. Honduras lifted the trophy back in 1981, but that remains their only triumph so far.
The rivalry between the two nations on the football pitch dates back to 1968, when Honduras won the first ever meetings with Jamaica. None of the teams were able to score more than two goals in any of the previous ten encounters and just three of those featured over 2,5 goals, while four matches saw both sides hitting the back of the nets. Just two of the last ten H2H clashes were won by the visitors, and both times it was Jamaica who won away from home. Three of the last four matches in which Jamaica were listed as hosts ended in draws.