CONCACAF has announced that they have banned Nicaragua from competing in the upcoming 2023 Gold Cup. The decision was based on the Central American team fielding an ineligible player for a series of matches in recent months. As a result, Nicaragua faces relegation to Nations League B as well.
Upcoming USMNT matches affected by move
Nicaragua was previously in Group A of the competition alongside the United States men’s national team. However, Trinidad & Tobago will now replace Nicaragua in the group. They will be joined by the USMNT, Jamaica, and a prelim winner. The preliminary round starts on Friday, June 16, eight days before the Yanks begin their Gold Cup tournament against Jamaica.
CONCACAF did not name the ineligible player in their official statement on the issue. Nevertheless, the player featured for the team during Nations League matches. This competition essentially helps determine which national teams get to feature in the Gold Cup. Nicaragua has managed to grab just two victories over their last nine matches. Their most recent win came in a Nations League matchup with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines back in March.
Nicaragua originally promoted to Gold Cup group based on rankings
Trinidad & Tobago replaces Nicaragua in the upcoming tournament based on seeding. Previously, the Soca Warriors featured in the prelim round of the qualification phase. However, as they were the highest-ranked team not in the Gold Cup draw, Trinidad & Tobago will now go straight to the group stage.
As a result of the move, Antigua and Barbuda enters the prelim round. They will attempt to qualify for the Gold Cup by first facing Guadeloupe on June 16th.
Nicaragua has two upcoming friendlies scheduled as they had hoped to prepare for the tournament. They will play Uruguay on Wednesday, June 14th and then face Paraguay four days later. Both fixtures will be road games for the Blue and Whites.
PHOTO: IMAGO / ANP
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