Panama into Gold Cup quarters, Mexico triumphs

Updated 13 July 2013
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Panama into Gold Cup quarters, Mexico triumphs

SEATTLE, Washington: Gabriel Torres converted an 85th minute penalty to guide Panama into the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over Martinique on Thursday, before Mexico beat Canada 2-0 to pick up their first victory of the competition.
Panama top Group A on six points from two games, ahead of Martinique and Mexico on three points apiece with Canada propping up the standings after two straight losses.
Martinique produced a big upset on the opening day of the 12-team competition by beating Canada 1-0 and they again showed levels of skill and organization well beyond expectations for one of the tournament's supposed minnows.
Panama were frustrated and created few chances but the game played at Seattle's CenturyLink Field turned in their favour when Martinique were reduced to 10 men after Jacky Berdix was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 72nd minute.
Five minutes from the end, Panama substitute Jairo Jimenez was brought down inside the box by a reckless Sebastien Cretinoir challenge and Torres squeezed the penalty just past Martinique keeper Kevin Olimpa.
After their opening loss to Panama, six-times Gold Cup winners Mexico could ill-afford another setback and they attacked Canada from the outset in the second match of the Seattle double-header.
'El Tri' grabbed the lead in the 42nd minute when Jorge Enriquez's delightful near post flick on from a Luis Montes corner set up Raul Jimenez for a thundering diving header.
Mexico's second was controversial though, when Canada defender David Edgar was adjudged to have brought down Marco Fabian when it appeared the Mexican had fallen as he stretched for the ball without any contact.
Fabian converted the penalty and Edgar's frustration spilled over in the 67th minute when he kicked out at Jimenez and was lucky to escape with just a yellow card.
Both teams hit the bar late on with Canada's Marcel De Jong's superbly struck 89th minute free-kick finding the woodwork before Javier Orozco's header rebounded off the frame of the goal a minute later.
Mexico face Martinique in the final round of Group A matches in Denver on Sunday, after Canada take on Panama at the same venue. Canada, stunned in their opener by Martinique, remained in search of their first victory and in danger of missing out on a quarterfinal berth.
The tournament continues in Miami on Friday with the Group B clashes between Central American rivals Honduras and El Salvador and an all-Caribbean affair as Trinidad and Tobago play Haiti.
On Saturday, the United States face Cuba and Costa Rica take on Belize in a Group C double-header at Sandy, Utah, near Salt Lake City.
The winners of the North and Central America and Caribbean regional football championship will battle the 2015 champions for a place in the 2017 Confederations Cup.


What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

Updated 43 min 39 sec ago
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What now for Saudi Arabia’s big four teams?

  • Al-Hilal won their 15th top-flight title this season.
  • Big summer for Saudi Arabia football with the Green Falcons at the World Cup.

Now the Saudi Professional League season is over for another year Arab News can look back at their title tilts and what the big four clubs have to do over the coming months ahead of the next season.

 



AL-HILAL

Finished: Champions

Coaching situation: Ramon Diaz was in charge for much of the season, but was fired in February after setbacks in the Champions League.
Assistant Juan Brown did Okay in the final stretch, but a top-class coach could get more out of this team.

Squad priorities: A reliable goalscorer to support Omar Khribin and with veteran defender Osama Hawsawi leaving for pastures new, a replacement center-back with leadership qualities. Welcoming back the major stars — Carlos Eduardo, Khribin, Nawaf Al-Abed and Salem Al -Dawsari — will be a major boost.

Aim next season: Win the AFC Champions League

 



AL-AHLI

Finished: Second

Coaching situation: Sergiy Rebrov is out of contract at the end of June. His future is likely to depend on how the team fares against Al-Sadd in the second round of the AFC Champions League in May.

Squad priorities: There is not much wrong. The Jeddah giants were the highest scorers in the league last season and had the second best defense. Keeping star midfielder Leonardo fit will help as will a little cover in the center of defense. Star striker Omar Al-Somah fell out with the coach in a public way in the penultimate game of the season. It may be that one of them has to go. The Syrian has been player of the year for three years and has a longer contract than Rebrov.

Aim next season: Win the league. Maintain good performances in Asia.


 
AL-NASSR

Finished: Third

Coaching situation: Krunoslav Jurcic arrived in January and the former Croatian national team boss produced an upswing in results. May just be a temporary appointment and it needs to be sorted quickly.

Squad priorities: Looks good with the Saudi Arabia national team keeper, a strong center-back pairing of Omar Hawsawi and Bruno Uvini and the full-back position seemingly sorted with the January signing of Saad Suhail. They probably need a defensive midfielder and have to keep Junior Kabananga. The DR Congo striker has shown enough in his few weeks at the club to suggest that he could be a real star next season, especially with Leonardo pulling the strings behind him.

Aim next season: A genuine title challenge and getting through the play-offs into  the 2019 AFC Champions League.

 


AL-ITTIHAD

Finished: Ninth

Coaching situation: A bottom half finish is unacceptable for a team with Al-Itithad’s stature and history. Chilean coach Jose Luis Sierra may find that winning domestic cups is no substitute for challenging for the title.

Squad priorities: There is too much reliance on players such as Carlos Villanueva, a creative spark in the team, and Fahad Al-Ansari, the midfield engine, who are the wrong side of 30. The possible return of star winger Fahad Al-Muwallad will help, but an introduction of energy is needed.

Aim next season: Top three and, if the team wins the King’s Cup, a good showing in the 2019 AFC Champions League.