The qualification process for the Caribbean Cup is quite a laborious one. It involves several rounds of group stages as the field of tropical paradise specks in the ocean, plus one or two bigger hitters, is gradually whittled down to the lucky final four to play in the finals next year in the distinctly non-Caribbean nation of the United States.
Two current Worst in the World nations are eligible to take part but only one of them actually will do so. The Bahamas have decided to focus their attentions elsewhere, echoing the prospect of two matches against some near neighbours presumably due to a severe lack of resources, financial and on-field. Also missing are the all-time longest serving Worst in the World nation, Montserrat.
But most definitely taking part are the tiny island territory of Anguilla, who face a tough couple of matches in their particular three-way group taking place next week in Guyana. As well as facing their hosts, they must also take on Puerto Rico with the dangling carrot of two places in the second qualifying round enticingly within reach.
Hope is not without foundation in the case of Anguilla, a team stranded at the bottom of the rankings for a year now. Neither Guyana (156th) nor Puerto Rico (170th) are particularly high up in the FIFA rankings and neither have been showing the kind of recent form to worry unduly, though clearly their recent results are superior to Anguilla’s. Guyana, for instance, won a recent friendly with their near neighbours Suriname 2-0 last month.
Anguilla will face Puerto Rico on Saturday 26th March before ending the group against Guyana on Tuesday 29th. Before either of those matches, Guyana and Puerto Rico play each other on Wednesday 23rd. The ideal prospect for Anguilla, therefore, may well be a convincing Guyanan win over Puerto Rico in the group opener, leaving Anguilla able to go for it against a tired and hopefully down on their luck opponent. We shall see.
All matches will take place in the 15,000 capacity Providence Stadium in Georgetown, Guyana and you can follow the details of those matches here.