(Reuters) – The tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat saw their hopes of a first CONCACAF Gold Cup qualification dashed on Sunday when Nicaragua beat Barbados 1-0 away from home to pip them to the last spot at the finals.
The British Overseas Territory, with a population of about 5,000, is 200th of the 211 teams in FIFA’s world ranking but closed in on a place at the tournament thanks to a 2-1 win over the Cayman Islands on Saturday.
However, Juan Barrera’s goal 20 minutes into the second half secured a place for Nicaragua, who leapfrogged Montserrat on goal difference in the 34-team qualifying table of Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football nations.
The top 10 teams qualified for the Gold Cup finals, among them Guyana and Bermuda, who will take part for the first time.
Group winners Haiti will be joined by Canada, Martinique, Curacao, Cuba, Jamaica and El Salvador.
Having qualified for the final round of the CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers last year, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States were handed automatic spots in the finals spot.
The biennial Gold Cup will take place in the United States, Costa Rica and an as yet undecided Caribbean country, with the kick off scheduled for June 15 and the final set for Chicago on July 7.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Peter Rutherford)