Cuba aim to avoid bad start in Gold Cup

Assistant boss Walter Benitez hopes the arrival of head coach Raul Gonzalez Triana and a host of missing players will help Cuba move on from a torrid opening to their Gold Cup challenge.

Triana and six players were left stranded in Antigua due to “logistical problems”, with reports circulating that the group had experienced visa problems.

Following the Caribbean Olympic qualifiers, the seven were forced to miss their opening match of the Gold Cup on Thursday against Mexico.

Matters were then made worse as news emerged that Keiler Garcia had defected, and the striker seems unlikely to play any part in the tournament.

Led by Benitez – who had just 16 men to choose from – Cuba were hammered 6-0 by Mexico in their Group C opener as Oribe Peralta netted a hat-trick, but the missing players and coach Triana are expected to join up with the party in time for Sunday’s fixture in Phoenix, Arizona.

“We were limited with the possibility of changes and variations,” Benitez said after the heavy defeat. “I think when the other players and the coach arrive the team should improve a lot.

“We have to gather ourselves, correct some things, wait for the team to be completed and we have to keep improving.”

By contrast, Trinidad and Tobago began their campaign in positive fashion, defeating Guatemala 3-1 thanks to goals from Sheldon Bateau, Cordell Cato and Joevin Jones.

All three strikes arrived in the opening 25 minutes, and captain Kenwyne Jones hopes his side can keep silencing the critics who continue to bring up the actions of former FIFA vice president Jack Warner.

“Credit to the team for the way we started the game and we put ourselves in a position where we could cruise,” Jones said.

“It’s always important to get off to a winning start. A win or draw in the next game can guarantee us going to the quarter-finals once again and I think that measures the standard and level of progress we made in the last two to three years.

“I think all the teams in the tournament are trying to use that against us, the fact that we have had a lot happening off the field in our football over the past few years.

“Even Guatemala had a few digs, trying to talk about Jack Warner helping us, but I can’t remember the last time Jack Warner kicked a ball.

“For us I think we came out on the field and, despite all the odds against us, showed our class.”