A Preview of Tomorrow’s Semi-final and Classification Matches
The pool phase is done and dusted. We have our semi-finalists and 5-8th classification match ups. They are Pool A winners MEX vs Pool B runners up BAR and Pool B winners TTO vs. Pool A runners up CUB in the semi-finals; then 5-8th playoffs see 3rd place Pool A DOM vs. 4th place Pool B GUA and 3rd place Pool B JAM vs. 4th place Pool A GUY.
Using their tournament rank we have # 1 ranked MEX vs. #2 ranked BAR, #3 ranked TTO vs. #5 ranked CUB, #4 ranked DOM vs. # 7 ranked GUA and # 6th ranked JAM vs. 8th ranked GUY. Given that the ranking is based on tournaments played it is worth noting that CUB have not played since their 2014 gold medal performance in Veracruz. Also worth noting is that only three world ranking places separate Jamaica (66th) from Guyana (69th).
MEX and TTO have played a perfect 3 from 3 in the pool phase. MEX has yet to concede a goal for the tournament, but boast a modest goals for total of 6. TTO has a more impressive tally of 15 goals for, but 12 of those came against CAC Games debutants GUA. BAR have looked athletic while defending with tenacity. It would be interesting to see if their quick forwards can put pressure on the steady MEX back line. CUB has looked really good without really finishing teams off. Their modest return of 5 goals for while conceding the same amount suggests vulnerability, but they are a team loaded with talent and TTO will have to be at their very best if they are to win.
DOM, like CUB, have been very good and quite ordinary. They had opportunities against MEX and lost narrowly, likewise they led in their match against CUB but could not maintain for long enough periods and again lost narrowly. They should still have the quality to finish off GUA. GUA have been a tenacious defensive unit. They never stop working and they are not afraid to put their bodies on the line for their team. They have even shown signs of attacking verve, scoring a goal from an excellent counter attack. JAM have been a difficult team to beat and with a little more precision in the attacking circle might well have beaten both TTO and BAR. GUY have been well organised defensively and can probably count themselves unlucky to be drawn in a group in which any of the three teams ahead of them good enough to play in the semi-final.
It would take a braver person than I to predict the winners of these games. None of the teams have looked unbeatable, even those still undefeated. It all makes for an exciting day of hockey. Look out for our Day 7 recap to find out how the games went.