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Three Group B teams hunt one play-off spot in U-20 Champs

Two-time defending champions Mexico have already secured the group honours with 12 points from four straight wins and secured a 14th spot in the World Cup to be held May-June in New Zealand, as well as qualified for Saturday’s final.

Honduras on seven points are also sure of a place in the play-offs regardless of their result today.

Mexico, who are seeking a 16th straight win in CONCACAF championships, will complete their fixtures against out-of- contention Haiti in the final game of the triple-header this evening.

Honduras are in second place on seven points followed by El Salvador on five, Cuba on four, Canada on three and Haiti on two.

Before that game, however, three nations — El Salvador, Cuba and Canada –will come into the day with varying degrees of hope of advancing.

El Salvador could hold the key, however, as a win over Cuba in the first game would also see them and Honduras advancing before they kick off against Canada in the 5:30 pm game.

Cuba have earned all four points from their last two games — a 2-2 draw against Haiti and an upset 2-1 win over Canada two days ago. A win for Cuba would see them qualifying for the play-offs at the expense of El Salvador.

Frank Lopez got a brace against Canada and the Cubans will hope he and Eddy Luis Saname can continue producing goals.

Cuba had lost their first two games by a combined 12-1 margin, but their defence has improved considerably since then, giving up only three goals in their following two games.

El Salvador are, however, confident they will qualify for a second World Cup, and despite a 3-1 loss to Mexico Monday, should be good enough to get by Cuba.

Jose Villavicencio has been El Salvador’s talisman in the tournament with three of their eight goals. With him teaming up with Juan Barahona and Bryan Perez, the Central Americans could prove too strong for the Cubans.

Canada will be hoping for a draw in their hopes of getting past the group stages.

They have lost three straight games after beating Haiti in the first match and have not lived up to pre-tournament expectations.

Their big guns have not fired; Jordan Hamilton, has scored twice in the first half against Haiti, but he has not found the back of the net since. Cyle Larin, the number one pick in the MLS Super Draft, has fired blanks so far.

Michael Petrasso and Marco Busco, from whom much was expected, have also failed to deliver.

Honduras, meanwhile, could rest top players for the play-offs on Saturday as they have very little to gain from risking the likes of Alberth Elis and Bryan Rochez in this game.







 

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