Posted by:
Big Chaco
Disclaimer: BIAS

Last one before we kick off tomorrow. Now to the weakest of the 3 groups. We have current Central American champion Costa Rica. A resurgent El Salvador. Caribbean champion Haiti. And the enigma that is Suriname.

Costa Rica--A lot of easiness around the Tico squad as of late. They didn't take care of Grenada as easily as everybody thought. The team has had very few games to prepare for this phase. Also, the generation of Ticos such as Rolando Fonseca, Wanchope and Reynaldo Parks have moved on. Hernan Medford's tenure was a disaster and Costa Rica will start this phase with a new coach. Costa Rica still has talent with several players playing in mid-level leagues in Europe. The player to watch out for is Alvaro Saborio who plays his trade in Switzerland. Costa Rica is the favorite to win this group easily but the ticos have to beware of the pressure. Especially when travelling to Haiti and Suriname.

El Salvador--There was speculation in El Salvador that CONCACAF wanted to keep El Salvador out of the later phases. Well, too bad you suits! El Salvador is full of confidence after disposing the heavily-favored Panamanians in the previous round in an exciting return leg in San Salvador. Coach Carlos de los Cobos has finally done something that's been missing in El Salvador for the past 10 years: organization. The Salvadoran defense is organized and the midfield plays a short-passing game linking play up the field. El Salvador has the biggest advantage in having the most intimidating home stadium in the group: the Estadio Cuscatlan. The offense will rely on the leadership of former DC United player Eliseo Quintanilla. If El Salvador plays with confidence, they will win the group.

Haiti--Being the Caribbean champs, Haiti demands respect. And Haiti can play spoiler and go to the hexagonal. Unpredictable and athletic, Haiti can be the Jamaica of 1998 and the Trinidad&Tobago of 2006. I have to admit, I don't know much about Haiti. Which gets me kind of worried. Remember, the Haitians were the first Caribbean team to participate in a World Cup in 1974.

Suriname--The outsider in this whole round. Suriname has produced players who ended up playing for Dutch squads such as Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Clarence Seedorf, Edgar Davids & Patrick Kluivert. Those guys weren't average joes. Suriname is the biggest enigma and with that should pull a couple upsets here.

Schedule: The opening game, CostaRica-El Salvador will set the tone for the group. The most crucial game will be Haiti hosting El Salvador. If El Salvador can win in Haiti, then it could very well wrap up the group. If Haiti win, then this could go to the wire.

Prediction: El Salvador, Costa Rica (with Haiti making it entertaining)


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