The Caribbean Islands are a nice place where you can enjoy one of the best 3S in the world. There are few places where the sun, sea and sand are so popular like on these coasts, but few know that in some countries from this region, sport is a real religion. Football, to be more precise. But not just any kind of football in which are involved states like Montserrat, as they are on the last place in the FIFA rankings.
A few countries from the Caribbean zone made it at the most prestigious soccer competitions: The World Cup. First of them was surprisingly Cuba, in 1938. The socialist country reached at that time the quarter finals, because they eliminated Romania after two shock matches. In the first one the score was level, 3-3, with 120 minutes played, but on the replay Cuba won 2-1 despite being led after 50 minutes. They met Sweden in the specified next round but against the Scandinavians they didn’t stood a chance, as their opponents won 8-0.
26 years where necessary to permit another team from this region to qualify for the World Cup. It happened in Germany 1974 when Haiti, the East half of the island Hispaniola, managed to take part in the last 16, as this was at that time the maximum number of participants per tournament. The Caribbean team led Italy in the first group match, 1-0, but ended the competition with only two goals scored and 14 conceded. In that game they lost by only two goals, but Poland beat them 7-0 and so did Argentina with a clear 4-1. Still, they weren’t the weakest team of the competition, because Zaire (now RD Congo) conceded the same number of goals but did not manage to score a single one.
In the first edition of the World Cup with 32 participants, one of them was Jamaica. Another exotic country, even more than were Cuba and Haiti. The small state lost their opening game in group H, 3-1, against Croatia, another team that qualified for the first time at such a tournament. After another defeat, 5-0 to Argentina, Jamaica won their honor, after beating Japan. The 2-1 victory couldn’t be shaded by the fact that the national squad from Asia was also a new entry in the history of the World Cup. On 26 June, Theodore Whitmore, now manager at the national team, scored both goals that lead to the last victory of an Caribbean country at a World Cup.
Despite this success, in 2006 one last state from this part of the World took place at this important competition. Trinidad and Tobago, one of the few states in the world where all three big religions (Islamic, Hindi and Christian) get along in peace, were drawn in Group B along Sweden, England and Paraguay. The opening game ended in a shocking 0-0 as Shaka Hislop closed the goal in front of Ibrahimovic, Larsson and Ljungberg despite T&T playing the second half in ten men, after Avery John was sent off. The Caribbeans looked like they could resist even to England and so they did, but only until late in the game. It was the 83rd minute, when Crouch managed to put the ball in and after another eight minutes, Gerrard sealed the table with a great shot from outside the box. With 2-0 Trinidad and Tobago would eventualy lose their last game, against Paraguay and end up upset because they became the first Caribbean team, to play at a World Cup and not scoring at least one goal. But the point that T&T had won is more prestigious and reflects the team’s spirit of sacrifice as Dwight York, the great attacker from Manchester United in the late 90s, played in all three games as a defensive midfielder!