Wednesday, March 12, 2008

5 Cuban Soccer Players "Missing"

This is when I do my "happy dance".

Five Members Of Cuban U-23 Team Missing From Hotel

TAMPA, Fla. -- Five members of the Cuban Under 23 national soccer team left their hotel Tuesday night and are unaccounted for, raising the possibility they may be trying to defect.The players were discovered to have left the team hotel hours after earning a 1-1 draw with the United States in the Pre-Olympic tournament.

"Jose Manuel Miranda, Erlys Garcia Baro, Yenier Bermudez, Yordany Alvarez and Loanni Prieto left the hotel", Raul Gonzalez, coach of the Cuban national team, told ESPN reporter Fernando Palomo.

Miranda started at goalkeeper and Bermudez captained the team on Tuesday night, when Cuba was able to hold on for a surprise draw in Group A action.

Together with Mexico, the U.S. starts the tournament as a favorite to win one of the two berths for the Beijing games in August.

Freddy Adu scored for the U.S. after 14 minutes, but Roberto Linares equalized shortly before halftime. The Cubans then were able to hold on for a draw despite ending the match with 10 men, as Linares was sent off with a red card in the 82nd minute.

"Cuba has plans to keep playing in this tournament and we don't want to forfeit our next two matches," said Gonzalez.

If the five players do not return, Cuba would be left with a 13-man squad, but only 12 would be available to play their next match, as Linares is automatically suspended one game for the red card.

Cuba is scheduled to face Honduras on Thursday, at 5.30 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

CONCACAF officials were to meet with the Cuban delegation later on Wednesday to discuss the situation and they could ask Cuba to forfeit the tournament. Cuba was scheduled to train at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Gonzalez also confirmed that there was no security plan in place around the Cuban team to avoid defections. The team was staying at the Doubletree Hotel Tampa Westshore Airport.

1 comment:

Ms Calabaza said...


God save them.