WILLEMSTAD – Curaçao failed to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar. Led by interim coach Patrick Kluivert, the final group, in which the tickets will eventually be distributed, was not reached due to a draw against Panama (0-0).
Curaçao had to win in the first game after the loss (2-1) to continue. In the absence of the sick national coach Guus Hiddink, it also got the chances, but there were no goals in Willemstad.
The fact that it remained exciting until the last minute was mainly due to Eloy Room. After an hour of play, the keeper took a penalty from Édgar Bárcenas, so that one hit was enough to advance a round. Panama is slightly lower in the FIFA ranking than Curaçao, but already made its debut in a World Cup in 2018.
For Curaçao, that remains a dream for the time being, but thanks to the input of many Dutch professionals, the team has been considerably strengthened in recent years. In the ranking of the world football association, the island has risen more than a hundred places in recent years, to the current 76th place.
And work continues on the project. Tahith Chong, for example, who was hired by Club Brugge from Manchester United, was an attentive spectator at the World Cup qualifier. The 21-year-old attacker was born in Willemstad and trained by Feyenoord.
Panama now advances to the last eight through this intermediate round, as do El Salvador and Canada. The latter was too strong in the group stage for Suriname and Aruba, among others.
Together with Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and the United States, these countries can compete in a group for three World Cup tickets. The number four can still qualify via play-offs.