Cuba's Gold Cup hopes dashed by Covid, visa travel woes

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Cuban football players, celebrating a goal in a World Cup qualifier against British Virgin Islands last month, will not get the chance to qualify for the Gold Cup due to travel issues caused by Covid-19 and visa issues, CONCACAF announced Saturday

Cuba's CONCACAF Gold Cup preliminary match against French Guyana was cancelled on Saturday as Covid-19 protocols and "visa challenges" kept the Cubans from arriving for the match.

CONCACAF, football's governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, said French Guyana would advance to the second round of preliminaries and take on Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday for a place in the Gold Cup proper.

Cuba, meanwhile, saw their chance of qualifying for the Gold Cup ended.

"CONCACAF has been in regular communication with the Cuban Football Association regarding their travel to the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Preliminary Round," the governing body said in a statement.

"Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 related travel and visa challenges, and the required Covid-19 testing regime, their match tonight against French Guyana will not take place.

"Given the current public health situation and the ongoing need for protocols to be adhered to, the health and safety of the participating teams cannot be compromised."

The Miami Herald reported Saturday that the Cuban team was stranded in Nicaragua as they tried to reach Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the match.

CONCACAF is using a new qualification format for the 2021 Gold Cup with a preliminary round featuring 12 countries competing for three places in the group stage.

The two preliminary rounds in Fort Lauderdale conclude on Tuesday, with Gold Cup group play set to kick off next Saturday.

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