Arch-rivals Mexico and USA will be favourites when the CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on Sunday 5th June. El Tri and the Yanks have won eight of the ten previous competitions, a biennial cup of nations for North, Central America and the Caribbean zone. Mexico are defending champions, having humiliated the host USA two years ago with a 5-0 hammering in the final in New Jersey. Back then, however, both the Mexicans and the USA took second-string sides to the Gold Cup and, as a result, the tournament was not the spectacle it might have been. This time out, spread across 13 venues in the United States, there will be no depleted squads, no excuses and no half measures as the 12 participating nations vie for a single place at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.
The 3-week tournament will host most of Europe’s football stars and I want to have a look at the key men who a greater chance of setting the tournament alight and making it a spectacle. Group B will see teams like Jamaica,Guatemala,Grenada and Honduras lock horns against each other for the title.
The Spice Boys are certainly one of the tournament’s lightweights. They have never qualified for the World Cup. Grenada finished second in the Caribbean Cup in 1989 and 2008. Their second-place finish in the 2008 Caribbean Cup gave Grenada its first qualification to a major international competition, that being the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
They lost all three of their group-stage games. Now, with Shalrie Joseph withdrawing, they’ll miss out on the creativity, defensive muscle and persistent work rate of their midfield linchpin. Grenada will have to lean on another dynamic MLS midfielder: Sporting KC’s Craig Rocastle, who will need to be a box-to-box influence. They will also rely on players such Leon Johnson of Wycombe Wanderers, promoted to England’s League One for next season, as well as Carolina RailHawks forward Kitson Bain.
Although Blackburn’s Roberts has the potential to be one of the most important players for the Grenada national team, availability issues that come with playing in England have limited his impact with the team. Nevertheless, he was an important force for the team during qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, in which the Grenada team put up an impressive showing before bowing out to the United States, although he managed to score on a penalty kick against that very team.
Roberts qualifies to play for Grenada through his father, who was born there. His mother was born in French Guiana.
Mike Adam’s Grenadan team is made of large number of players who ply their trade in the country.
Goalkeepers: Andray Baptiste (Police FC), Desmond Noel (QPR), Shemel Louison (Fontenoy FC)
Defenders: Shanon Phillip (Hurricane), Casim Langaigne (Hurricane), Benedict Modeste (QPR), David Cyrus (Ossett Town/ENG), Clive Murray (Paradise), Marc Marshall (GBSS), Leon Johnson (Wycombe Wanderers FC/ENG)
Midfielders: Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution/USA), Shane Rennie (Paradise), Ricky Charles (QPR), Patrick Modeste (QPR), Lancaster Joseph (Hurricane), Craig Rocastle (Sporting Kansas City/USA), Moron Phillip (Hurricane), Dwayne Leo (South Stars)
Forwards: Delroy Facey (Lincoln City FC/ENG), Bradley Bubb (Farnborough/ENG), Marcus Julien (ESS), Anthony Straker (Aldershot Town/ENG), Kithson Bain (Carolina Railhawks/USA)
English-born Grenadian international midfielder Craig Aaron Rocastle is currently playing for Sporting Kansas City in Major League Soccer. He played for Chelsea, Sheffield Wednesday, Oldham Athletic and Port Vale, also enjoying loan spells with numerous clubs. He is a cousin of the late England and Arsenal midfielder David Rocastle.
Rocastle gained extensive experience in the Chelsea reserve side, following his transfer from Kingstonian in the summer of 2003. However he never made a first team appearance for the Pensioners, though made the substitutes bench on one occasion.
Following a short trial in March 2010 Rocastle departed Forest Green to sign for Kansas City Wizards in Major League Soccer.
He made his Grenada international debut on 26 November 2010, in a 2010 Caribbean Championship match against Martinique at the Stade d’Honneur de Dillon in Fort-de-France.
Leon Dean Johnson is an English professional footballer who plays as a defender for Wycombe Wanderers.
Although he was born in England, Johnson qualifies to play for Grenada through his father. He made his national team debut in the 2011 Gold Cup on June 6 when his team was humiliated by the Jamaicans in their Group B opener.
Johnson came through the youth ranks at his first professional club, Southend United. Johnson made his professional debut when he started the Football League Trophy match for Southend at home to Cheltenham Town in 1999. Southend lost 1-0 to go out of the cup, and Johnson played no more part in the 1999/00 season.
Johnson has to ensure that his side will not leak in many goals against Palacios’ Honduras because Honduras will be seeking to get their first win of the tournament after their draw with Guatemala.
Delroy Michael Facey is also a British-Grenadian professional footballer. The striker is clubless and he has high hopes of being signed by a top club after the Godl Cup.He has previously played for Huddersfield Town, Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City, Burnley, West Bromwich Albion, Hull City, Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers, Rotherham United, Gillingham, Wycombe Wanderers and Lincoln City.
In 2009, Facey received a call up to play for Grenada and train with them in preparation for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. He was in line to receive his first cap in a friendly against Panama, but after Grenada’s pitch was found to be unsuitable the friendly was called off. He was later named in Grenada’s squad for the Gold Cup and made his international debut on 8 July in Grenada’s second group match against Honduras. Facey qualifies for Grenada through his mother, who was born on the island. He was also eligible to represent Jamaica (where his father was born) and Trinidad and Tobago (where one of his grandparents was born), even earning a call up to play for the Reggae Boyz, which he could not accept due to a broken ankle. Facey added to his caps during the 2010 Digicel Caribbean Cup, scoring twice for Grenada against St. Kitts and Nevis.