More usually it has been the little volcanic rock of Montserrat that has been the focus of Worst in the World attention in the Caribbean, but of course they have risen from the depths and left us for a few years at least. But our focus on the annual Caribbean Cup competition remains thanks to the Turks & Caicos Islands.
The Caribbean Cup itself will take place later in the year in Montego Bay, Jamaica; in November to be precise. Eight teams will make it that far out of the 26 who entered this year. Bahamas, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Saint Martin and Sint Maarten did not enter, but thankfully Turks & Caicos did so we have some preliminary round action to look forward to.
The top four teams from the Caribbean Cup will qualify for next year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, while a fifth will playoff against the fifth best team from the Copa Centroamerica. The tournament winner will also qualify for the Copa America Centenario in 2016, but those kind of thoughts shouldn’t trouble the Turks & Caicos players overly.
For the first time, all qualifying matches will be held on official FIFA match days, this helping teams pick their best players if they happen to play for higher profile clubs. This will “ensure the tournament has star power” according to the Jamaican Football Federation President Horace Burrell.
Anyway, getting back to the preliminary round, the seven lowest ranked entrants are split into two groups from which the group winners will progress to the First Round proper of qualification which will be held in September. A Second Round in October will produce six qualifiers to join the hosts Jamaica and the holders Cuba in the Caribbean Cup itself.
Preliminary Round Draw
The Preliminary Round sees our former favourites Montserrat hosting the Group One action; a first for Montserrat as a host of a Caribbean Football Union competition and a return to home field action after several itinerant years following the Soufriere Hills volcanic eruption. Montserrat will face the US Virgin Islands and Bonaire.
But Group Two is where our focus shifts. The Trinidad Stadium in Oranjestad, Aruba will host the matches between French Guiana, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands and the hosts Aruba.
Turks & Caicos will face Aruba in their opening match on 30th May before facing French Guiana two days later on 1st June, and British Virgin Islands on 3rd June. All three will be new opponents for the Turks & Caicos team.
Aruba are ranked significantly higher than Turks & Caicos, and French Guiana most likely would be if they were a fully fledged FIFA member but sadly they are not. What that means is that even if Turks & Caicos pulled off an unlikely win against the French Guianans it would have no bearing on their ranking points and thus wouldn’t lift them off the foot of the ranking table.
However it is the final match which will be the best chance for any progress to be made. The British Virgin Islands are only nine places off the bottom of the world rankings, and are the third worst ranked CONCACAF nation currently ahead of only Anguilla and the Turks & Caicos.