The second group stage opponent for USA’s U-20 WNT is Cuba (March 4th, 5:00pm Eastern).
The USA and Cuba are in Group B with Guatemala and host Panama. The USA is a clear favorite to win its group, but the other spot is up for grabs.
Below are some general notes about Cuba as well as some player notes.
(Note: As Cuba’s federation does not even have a website, finding good information for the team is extra difficult.)
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- Population: 11.1 million (note: median age is 38.4, compared to 36.9 for USA)
- GDP per capita: $9,900 (USA’s is $48,100)
- Federation: Asociación de Futbol de Cuba (no website)
- Women’s League: ? (There are club teams, but I have yet to find a league name)
- Senior WNT Ranking: 96th overall, 10th in CONCACAF
(Source for population and GDP data: CIA Factbook.)
How They Got to the Final Tournament: Cuba, as a Caribbean nation, had to go through two rounds of round-robin qualification, first in a three nation group, followed by a four nation group. In the first round, Cuba lost to Jamaica 2-0 and defeated St. Lucia 9-0. By finishing second in that group, Cuba qualified for the next round, where they were grouped with Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, and Guyana. In its first match, Cuba defeat Guyana 5-1. In its last two matches, Cuba tied both T&T and Puerto Rico by equal scorelines, 1-1. Cuba’s 5 points in the group was enough for it to qualify. (Only one team advanced to the final per group.)
Performance in Past CONCACAF Women’s U-20/U-19 Championships:
- 2010: Qualified. Did not get out of the group (4th place). Matches: 2-1 loss to Guatemala, 2-0 loss to Canada, 3-1 loss to Costa Rica.
- 2008: Qualified. Did not get out of the group (4th place). Matches: 7-0 loss to Mexico, 9-0 loss to USA, 6-1 loss to Trinidad & Tobago.
- 2006: Did not enter.
- 2004: Did not enter.
- 2002: Did not enter.
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Cuba’s official roster was released last weekend:
- Goalkeepers (2): Dianelis Moreno, Maisú León
- Defenders (4): Indira Manzano, Esmeralda Marcos, Odette Bayeaux, Regla Ponce
- Midfielders (6): Yarisleidy Mena, Laura Moreno, Roxana Galán, María Isabel Pérez, Solayne Gutiérrez, Taide Bacallao,
- Forwards (5): Rachel Peláez, Maidoni Goitizolo, Yoanna Calderón, Milagros Ramírez, Yanet Tamayo
Player To Watch: Senior WNT midfielder Rachel Pelaez Ellis, who scored 6 goals in 5 matches of qualifying, including the vital game-tying goal in Cuba’s final match versus Trinidad & Tobago. She also had Cuba’s only goal in its second match of the second round, which ended in a draw as well. Pelaez has at least 8 senior international caps, including as a starter in all three of Cuba’s Olympic qualifying matches in Vancouver. She is also a veteran of Cuba’s 2010 U-20 WNT, which qualified for the final tournament but finished last in its group.
Players with Senior Caps: Four players participated in CONCACAF’s recent Olympic qualifying tournament.
- Rachel Pelaez, MF — started all 3 matches
- Maria Isabel Perez, MF — played in 3 matches, started 2
- Yarisleidy Mena, MF — limited action as a sub
- Indira Manzano, DF — no playing time
Cuba attempted to qualify for the last Women’s World Cup, but they did not get out of Caribbean qualifying. Pelaez started all five matches for Cuba and scored one goal.
(Other players may have seen action with the senior national team, but the CONCACAF tournaments are the easiest to check as technical documents are available which have team rosters with basic player stats.)
2010 Tournament Veterans: Seven players on the current squad are veterans of the 2010 edition of this tournament:
- Rachel Pelaez, MF
- Yarisleidy Mena, MF
- Laura Moreno, MF
- Maria Isabel Perez, MF
- Yoanna Calderon, FW
- Roxana Galan, FW — no playing time
- Dainelys Moreno, GK
2010 U-17 Tournament Veterans: n/a (did not enter).