Havana, Cuba.- The president of the Cuban Football Association (AFC), Luis Hernandez, confirmed the presence of a team from the island in the second edition of the Caribbean Club Shield tournament, qualifier for the Concacaf League.
The Cuban representative in the contest, which will be based in Curaçao from April 5 to 15, will be the squad of the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba, winner of version 103 of the National League.
Hernandez told Prensa Latina that the inscription in that competition ‘was a yearning for many years of the AFC’ and constitutes ‘a stimulus that we had to achieve for the national championship.’
The contest will gather the 13 winners of the amateur leagues of the Caribbean region in 2018, which were already divided into three groups during the draw held in the city of Miami on January 9 last.
‘This will be a hard experience, but we want to keep it from now on. This year’s champion will also be registered for the next edition, ‘announced the head of soccer in Cuba.
He also appreciated that it is a great opportunity for the provincial teams and their players, since they can not only aspire to integrate the national team, but also to represent their territory in this tournament. ‘
Regarding the conformation of the squad, he said that ‘the idea is that Santiago de Cuba is only with the reinforcements that helped them win.’
‘We want to respect the provincial player, who surrendered, who sweated, not to make a national team,’ said the also member of the FIFA Council.
He also clarified that it was already agreed in the meeting of technical directors prior to the current national championship, that the matches of Santiago de Cuba that coincide with the Caribbean fair will be postponed for a later date.
The director clarified that the AFC will assume a part of the expenses, but Concacaf will provide a financing for the tickets.
‘If the team keeps advancing, the economic part could become more complicated, but it is not like before, when Cuba had to assume the expenses in full,’ he explained.
Similarly, he acknowledged that in the end there should be a cash prize for the winner, although the main reward is being included in the CONCACAF tournament, ‘where it would be played against professional teams from more developed countries.’
Hernandez recalled that Cuba already has other experiences of this kind, when in 1979 and 1980, the national champion Pinar del Río, advanced until they were eliminated before the respective monarchs of those years America and Pumas, both of Mexico.
‘After we enrolled again around 2005, also with Pinar del Río, but there the results were not good because they eliminated us in the first phase,’ he recalled.