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Thread: Gol de Cuba: ¡Hasta la victoria siempre!

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    Xenia Rapinoe is making waves in the football world. You may not have heard of her, but she's won three of the four competitions her club has been in over the past 12 months and on top of that she was voted Manager of the Year in their league

    Rapinoe may be one of only a few female managers to practice their trade in men's football - her most successful contemporary is Corinne Dacre, manager of French Ligue 2 team Clermont Foot 63 from 2014 to 2017 - yet even that isn't the extent of her ground-breaking career.


    (Rapinoe patrols the touchline of the Kim Il-sung Stadium)

    The Canadian manager is the first foreigner to manage in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

    Appointed as manager of Pyongyang City SC a season ago, the capital-based club went on to win the Mangyongdae Prize, followed by the DPRK League, and most recently the Paektusan Prize.

    It is some achievement and it is helping the long-decried country as Rapinoe breaks down misconceptions and stereotypes, as well as breathing fresh ideas upon the status quo. It is such revolutionary ideas and strive for progress that we, as Cubans, admire wherever we see it. It was, therefore, a delight for Villa Clara to welcome the accomplished manager on a recent visit to the club.

    Rapinoe was on her vacations here in Cuba when she accepted an invitation from Villa Clara's chairman Maximo 'Chacito' Rodriguez to discuss football matters in their countries.

    "The conversation was in-depth and enjoyable; Rapinoe is a very knowledgeable football coach,” Chacito told Vanguardia, "we had a productive footballing relationship with DPRK in the past and I told her as much as I could remember about Kim Yong-ha.”


    (Chacito also spoke with Rapinoe at length about football's value in the community)

    Kim Yong-ha is the National Team's most successful foreign manager and will forever be remembered for his services to our country. In 1969 the Cuban Football Association appointed the North Korean as manager and for the next decade we dominated the regional international competitions, thanks to the foundations he laid.

    Kim had the vision to take our nation team on a six-month training camp in his homeland, as well as an onward tour of Vietnam. Whilst in Asia, the national team played many friendlies in North Korea before moving onto Vietnam where they played matches in eight cities in the north of the country. The camp taught them the disciplines of teamwork, spirit, dedication, and endeavour.

    “He the best foreign coach ever to sit on the bench of the Cuban national team,” his assistant manager Sergio Padron Moreno, who would go on to succeed him and continue his success, once said, "[he] knew a lot about technique, he imposed a great tactical discipline and got the best out of every player. Those six months were very fruitful.”


    (Cuba and the DPRK have been comrades ever since the Revolution)

    They nearly didn't return alive, though. Whilst in Vietnam, it is possible that an American plot to kill the team was attempted. Staying in a local village one night, American B-52 planes were spotted approaching and the air sirens sounded. Along with the village's people, the entire squad had to take cover in underground tunnels where they spent hours waiting to safely emerge. At the time, US President Richard Nixon was sending nuclear armed B-52s to the vicinity in a show of aggression to the then Soviet Union. Fortunately, the national team returned unscathed and undaunted by the upcoming Central American & Caribbean Games, galvanised by their experiences in North Korea and Vietnam.

    The tournament, held in Panama, saw Kim Yong-ha guide his team to a trophy at the first attempt as Cuba won their first gold medal for 40 years and the first of the Revolution. More successes followed; Kim led the national team to Bronze at the Pan American Games in 1971, as Cuba finished silver overall, second only to the US and ahead of much larger countries such as Canada, Brazil and Mexico.

    In the football, Cuba collected 5 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses. They finished top of their Group, which included reigning champions Mexico who had hosted the World Cup a year prior reaching the quarter finals. In the final round, Cuba finished third, recording three wins and two defeats. Overall, they achieved victories over: Mexico (2-0); Trinidad & Tobago twice (both 1-0); United States (2-0), and Canada (1-0). It would be Kim Yong-ha's send-off as he returned to North Korea afterwards leaving his assistant, Moreno, to take over.

    Kim's legacy was one that lasted the entire decade, with Cuba enjoying their second and third successive CAC Games Golds in 1976 & 78; their first ever Olympic appearance in football at Canada 1976; and a quarter-final exit in the Olympics 4 years later in Moscow.

    “As well as helping us to win the CAC Games of 1970, it acted as a good starting point and strengthened the competitive training of the group of players who would become the protagonists of the subsequent good results," Kim's assistant-turned-successor Moreno explained years later.

    Our national team returned to North Korea for a pre-tournament training camp once more in 1985 and once more it resulted in a Gold at the 1986 CAC Games. Twenty-two years later and now it is our turn in hosting an element of North Korean football, at a time it makes its own attempts to improve its standing and reputation on the international stage.


    (Cuban Presdient Miguel Diaz Canel with President of DPRK Kim Jong-un)

    And Rapinoe's views on the matter?

    “I enjoyed my time in Zulueta. Here the football fans are very passionate and there is much potential in the players I have seen. I think Villa Clara's participation in US Soccer will help improve the quality of football in Cuba in a similar way that the opening of North Korea's borders to foreign coaches and players joining teams will help there.”
    Last edited by JayFlo; 30-05-18 at 06:21 PM.

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  3. #52
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    Okay that was brilliant!

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    With the third tier of US Soccer at its halfway point of the first group stages, we take a look at how each of the competitors are getting on. In this edition, we review the start Cuban newcomers Villa Clara have made and to help us digest what Maradona has served up is Cuban football expert Mario Lara.


    On Maradona’s impact:

    “Diego Maradona has wasted no time in establishing his own brand of football in US Soccer. Whether it is unique or unparalleled in its approach I do not know, but it is evidently working. In 8 games Villa Clara have conceded just twice and this is from a manager who couldn’t keep a tight ship with the Argentina national team.

    “What he’s done is popular in Europe at the moment but has been a prominent feature in Latin American football for years. After playing the first few games with a centre-back partnership, he’s gone to three at the back and plays with wingbacks that are essentially midfielders when in possession.

    “It could be seen as a defensive move, but actually since the change the goals conceded per game has dropped and the goals per game scored has doubled.




    On Villa Clara’s attack:

    “They’re second in the league for goals scored and from the other groups, St Louis, Tobacco Road, Reading United, Palm Beach, and 1904 FC have scored more. It’s worth pointing out all but Charlotte have played more games. What is unrivalled is their goal difference – plus 15. Only Charlotte come close with plus 13. Nobody has scored more than Maikel Reyes (8) and nobody has assisted more than Silvio Quinones (6).

    “Practically every game is an assault on the opposition’s box. They’ve had 98 shots across the 8 games they’ve played – that’s 12.25 shots a game. So are they wasteful? Well, perhaps; but if they’re top of their group and make it into the Promotion Group then the fans won’t mind. At the end of the day they’re seeing shots galore.



    On their future:

    “I think it would be premature to say whether they’ll sink or swim in the long run and I don’t think it’ll be that simple either. Their transfer policy may be a factor of major consideration to their long-term viability, but I know Maradona would rather flounder sticking to it than succeeding by abandonment. I know that, for sure.

    On Villa Clara’s Best Performance:

    “Many will look to the victory over Charlotte as the standout moment, but not for me. The 4-0 win over Toronto II announced them to US Soccer as a serious participant. They were away from home and down to ten men inside 20 minutes.

    “Most teams would’ve switched their approach, after they had a 1-0 lead to defend; Maradona didn’t even drop a player into defence. It was central defender Yosel Piedra that saw red after a two-footed tackle but Maradona chose to trust his remaining two defenders to cope alone and they continued on.

    “Remarkably, Oviedo and Morejon limited Toronto to just one shot in the remaining 70 minutes, whilst in attack Villa Clara remained ruthlessly efficient when hitting the target. Their four goals came from five shots on target and Toronto had no reply.

    “Maikel Reyes was admirable that game. His side were down to ten men and he was leading the line on his own anyway, but more so in isolation after the sending off. He sacrificed himself for the team. NBC gave him a 9/10 for his performance yet he didn’t have a single shot. Why? Because he set up two of his side’s goals with his selfless play.



    On Villa Clara’s MVP:

    “Without a doubt it is Silvio Quinones. With a few quality players in the side it is hard to be a stand out, but he does so effortlessly. In 9 games he has scored one and assisted six; that’s 7 goals he’s been involved in from 9 games, and remember he is defensive midfielder – one that’s averaging 3 tackles a game and only bettered by two of the three centre-backs.


    Over the course of our interview with Mario Lara, he was effervescent in his praise of Villa Clara. They’re representing their country with pride so far and it may have buoyed the Cuban national side in their recent friendlies.

    The ‘Lions of the Caribbean’ have faced the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas over the past two months, winning 5-0 and 2-0 respectively. Next month they’ll come up against their closest island neighbours the Dominican Republic and Maradona may not mind if his players continue to feature minimally.
    Although 19 of their contingent are in the Cuban national team, the Cuba manager has started just 4 and 6 of them in the two games. Whether this is due to a preference for domestic players, fatigue of the Villa Clara men, or simply better Cuban players on the island than in Maradona’s team, isn’t patently clear. What is, is that both are succeeding in what they do.
    Last edited by JayFlo; 31-05-18 at 03:17 PM.

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    The draw for the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will be made next week. The competition is now in its 105th outing and its 23rd in the modern professional era. It will be a historic day for the Cup because, for the first time, it will include a team from Cuba - FC Villa Clara. The club, based in the province of Santa Clara, Cuba, are enjoying a successful season in the third tier of US Soccer and will be facing the prospect of the country's best teams in the cup competition.


    Despite this being a Cuban club's first participation is US Soccer, the country has a record-breaking history in the U.S. Open Cup. During the 2007 Gold Cup, Cuba were in Houston for a game against Honduras. Two key players defected: Lester More and Osvaldo Alonso. More was already 30 years old and Alonso was just 21 and had already won a title in Cuba, as well as experiencing the captaincy of his country. Both would join Charleston Battery in 2008 and it was to be the start of one of the most illustrious playing careers US Soccer has seen.

    Osvaldo Alonso found himself playing in the U.S. Open Cup Final just 15 months after he had walked away from Cuba's national team camp. It was only the second time a team from outside the MLS had reached the final since the league's inception in 1996 and it was second tier Charleston Battery that Alonso was representing. It began a record-setting run of five consecutive U.S. Open Cup Final appearances by the combative defensive midfielder.


    (Osvaldo Alonso celebrating his 96th minute goal
    in the 2011 U.S. Open Cup Final vs. Chicago Fire)

    That first appearance ended in defeat for Alonso, but it was an impressive season for him. He scored twice in six Cup games and in the league, he was the recipient of no fewer than four individual accolades at the end of the season. It resulted in a move to the MLS.

    Seattle Sounders acquired his signature and Alonso continued his love affair with the cup, reaching the final for another four years running and winning it three times on the trot - both achievements breaking the records. The run ended in 2012 with defeat in the final to Sporting Kansas City.
    Even then, Alonso left his mark on the competition: he was named the Player of the Tournament after scoring four goals and contributing two assists in four games, a year on from winning Man of the Match and scoring in their 2011 Cup Final victory. Still today, Seattle Sounders remain the only team to win consecutive U.S. Cups in the modern professional era.


    (Seattle Sounders lift the 2009 trophy
    Alonso is three to the left of trophy-holding Kasey Keller)

    2013 was a brief hiatus in Seattle Sounders' Cup prowess, but they were back in 2014 to win it for a record- equalling fourth time. For Alonso, it was his 4th Cup Winners medal, alongside 2 Runners Up medals. He jointly holds the individual record for most Cup wins with C.J. Brown who won 4 with Chicago Fire between 1998 and 2006. He too gained a Runners Up medal - to Alonso's two - in 2004.

    Osvaldo Alonso's U.S Open Cup Final Record:

    • Six appearances
    • A joint-record Four Winner's Medals
    • Two Runner's Up Medals
    • A record 5 consecutive finals
    • A record 3 consecutive Winner's Medals
    • A yellow card in 5 of the 6 finals; 4 consecutive finals
    • The second goal in 2011's 2-0 victory over Chicago Fire
    • The Man of the Match award in the 2011 Final
    • The Player of the Tournament in 2012
    • 21 appearances; 7 goals and 2 assists

    Last edited by JayFlo; 01-06-18 at 04:44 PM.

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  9. #55
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    3 really good write ups. Really enjoyed reading them especially the 1st of the 3 recent articles.

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    Villa Clara Closed Out of U.S. Open Cup

    Cuban club Villa Clara were tonight omitted from the U.S. Open Cup first round draw. It reportedly came as a shock to their manager Diego Armando Maradona. The World Cup winner was supposedly at their ground, the decrepit Estadio Camilo Cienfuegos, when the draw was made.

    The village had gathered in the town centre at the Monumento al Balon to listen the cup draw on Radio Havana Cuba. The party atmosphere, buoyant no doubt by the prospects of being drawn against a first-tier side, slowly turned sour as they realised their team hadn't been drawn.

    “This is an outrage,” shouted Anri Hernandez, the president of the Villa Clara fan club Gol de Cuba, "we, the people, demand to know why our team has been left out of this competition.”


    (Heated discussion among residents followed the omission of Villa Clara;
    centre foreground is Anri Hernandez)

    The Miami Herald does not know officially the reasoning for their omission, but it is thought that admirable lobbying campaigns such as the Center for a Free Cuba have successfully argued that Villa Clara's inclusion in American sports competitions is legitimising the dictatorship of the Cuban Communist Party, whose new leader and President of Cuba is Villa Clara-born Miguel Diaz-Canel.

    It comes just a day after Miami FC hosted Villa Clara at the Riccardo Silva Stadium. The game finished 1-1 with Maikel Reyes' header cancelling out Miami's first half opener in the last minute of play. It was the second time the two teams had met this season; the first encounter was on the opening day and finished goalless.
    Despite giving numerous post-match interviews to other news outlets, Diego Maradona ignored The Miami Herald's reporters, dismissively waving his hand in their faces as he walked past without stopping. Tonight, the U.S. Open Cup ignored him.

    The full draw for the First Round:




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    Hello compadres! What's up?!

    We are doing very well, let me tell you, very well indeed! That win against Charlotte was very important - one more and reach the halfway point unbeaten!

    After 8 games and two months of championship football we have conceded just two goals and our thanks has to go to our excellent goalkeeper Danilo Torres and his defence. Even when Yosel Piedra was sent off 20 minutes into the game with Toronto II, we remained tight in defence and went on to win the game - que fenomenal! We also must say thanks to Maikel Reyes. He has scored nearly half of our 15 goals with his own 7 -a real striker! And doesn't Raciel Torres look good! Our brother joins us from Havana and he immediately became one of our own, getting us the goal against NY Red Bulls II to win 1-0.


    I am not going to talk about our exclusion from the U.S. Open Cup today. I am furious about that. To simply not be included in the draw is outright disrespect.

    The Name Game


    This month I wanted to tell you all more about the names of our competitors. American sports teams can normally be identified by their excellent nicknames, compared to the more traditional names of European teams. L.A Galaxy, is one for example - but even some well-known MLS teams are Europeanising their names due to the poison of capitalism!

    What happened to the Kansas City Wizards? Now they're called Sporting Kansas City! And what's with Real Salt Lake?! They're not even Spanish! Even their fans preferred to be called The Highlanders at first! Brand identity is an evil of capitalism for market exploitation!

    Here, I will give you some history of the names of the teams in our Group:

    Carolina: Carolina Dynamo are one of the oldest, if not the oldest, clubs in the USL and were called The Dynamo long before Houston Dynamo and even had the name copyrighted. The name doesn’t seem to have any special meaning though! At least it was original at the time!


    Charlotte Independence: Another team from North Carolina, but with more integrity! Their name comes from the Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence that declared independence from Great Britain in the wake of the Battle of Lexington! Though like much of American history it is questionable in its accuracy!


    Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC: Is there anything more community-based in a name than one that came from a vote of its fanbase? That is how The Switchbacks got their name!


    Miami FC: A name with no history. Miami FC were founded just a couple of years ago and given a generic name supposedly to encourage a wider support base. Que malo.


    NY Red Bulls II: New York Red Bulls II gained their current name in 2006 when their first team were purchased by the energy drink company Red Bull. Capitalism conquering community sports again! Red Bull now own clubs in Switzerland, Germany, and Brazil as well the US! Previously they were called New York/New Jersey MetroStars after the MetroMedia company that has its headquarters in New York. Arguably still capitalism!


    OKC Energy FC: The Oklahoma club gets its name from the state's known industry - oil, then energy. Their fanbases are known as The Grid and The Green Fury that! Energy has created a unique identity for the club. I like that!


    Penn FC: How boring! It wasn't always this! They were founded as Harrisburg City Islanders! How much more exciting and unique! This is the Pennsylvania-based team's first season as Penn FC after a rebrand dropped the name that had originated out of the fact they play their home games on City Island. More insulting is to say the Europeanisation gives the club “a more professional feel," like thecomeback.com said!


    Toronto II: The Canadian team chose the generic name from day one to allow for an organic nickname to generate from the fans rather than imposing one and did this back in May 2006, long before many American teams started their so-called rebrands!


    Wilmington Hammerheads: Founded in the mid-90s around the same time as Wilmington's baseball team The Sharks, The Hammers get their name due to their coastal location! Much more authentic! The basketball club were founded ten years later as Wilmington Sea Dawgs!


    Our Name:

    FC Villa Clara, our club, is based in Santa Clara in the province of Villa Clara. Our nickname, “El Expreso del Centro,” along with our new crest depicting a train, is in honour of The Battle of Santa Clara and the history of the railway in our province.


    It was this battle in which the Cuban Revolution was finally won, thanks to our commanders Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos! Our stadium is named after Camilo Cienfuegos and our badge is in remembrance of Che's tactical masterstroke of lifting the rails of the line that goes through Santa Clara. He did this using tractors and positioned the trap the other side of a bend ensuring the train was blindsided! The train remains at the point of its derailment as a monument of the Revolution! Viva la Revolucion!

    Hasta siempre la victoria!

    Vamos Zulueta! Vamos Villa Clara!

    El Barbero



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  14. #58
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    That's a disgusting decision not allowing Villa Clara into the Cup competition

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    Internal Strife despite Going Top
    Villa Clara went three points clear with victory over NY Red Bulls II tonight, after Charlotte let a 2-1 lead slip away to Miami FC to lose 3-2. So tight is the table that even after 14 games and despite Villa Clara remaining unbeaten only 3 points separates the top two.

    Maikel Reyes was denied a hattrick in the 3-0 win at the MSU Soccer Park as the Cuban striker continues to score at a sensational rate. The two goals in New York were his 13th and 14th of the season, leading the charts across all five groups. With VC having a total goal haul of 25, it means Reyes is responsible for just over half of all their goals. Second at the club is Frank Valdes with 5; he grabbed the third goal in that game.

    However, it seems not all is well at the club. In the sports bars and parks of Little Havana, Miami, there are rumours of power struggles in the hierarchy of the club. Looking at the table, one would expect a harmonious feeling throughout Villa Clara, but if the speculation is to be believed numerous first teamers are said to be unhappy.


    Spoiler!


    A source close to the club who did not wish to be named, said there were a few different cliques equally unhappy with different aspects of the club: one group feel it is time to move on; another believe the club is underachieving; and a third are, if the rest is true, understandably dismayed at the lack of harmony at the club. Most damning, said the source, is the board’s position: they are apparently extremely unhappy with Diego Maradona’s performance ‘as a whole.’

    It is hard for an outsider – and considering the secrecy at the club, essentially everyone is – to understand exactly what is going on at Villa Clara. It is unlikely to be the football, though: just 4 goals have been put past an impervious defence – just three for first choice ‘keeper Danilo Torres; they are sat at the top of the table and have been in the top two all season; and, if it mattered, they’ve lost just once in their domestic fixtures in Cuba.

    Since their 1-1 draw in Miami a month ago, Villa Clara have beaten Carolina (2-1) and OKC Energy (2-0) and had a goalless draw with Toronto II, before tonight’s 3-0 triumph over NY Red Bulls II. Are the murmurs nothing more than malicious and the rumours nothing more than fake news?


    Spoiler!

    Villa Clara’s inclusion in US Soccer has been fraught with opposition since its inception. The Miami Herald has stoked much of the fire with inflammatory news articles demonising the motives of their participation. Most recently, Villa Clara’s omission from the U.S. Open Cup has sparked further debate over whether this will be a one season wonder or a serious contestant in the wider sporting picture in the U.S.

    Diego Maradona was said to be furious with the ‘flagrant show of utter disrespect and contempt for the Cuban people,’ and the Gol de Cuba fan club president, Anri Hernandez, was equally livid. In contrast, the club has chosen not to make official comments on the tumultuous tricks and turns of the season so far.

    Attempts to interview a club representative have so far fallen on deaf ears. Whilst the Cuban Institute of Sport, Physical Education, and Recreation are willing to provided press statements, nobody actively involved with the club itself have been contactable away from match days on Cuban soil.

    Since the 1-1 draw in Miami, Villa Clara have had fixtures in the U.S. twice: in Oklahoma and in New York; on both occasions Diego Maradona failed to show for routine post-match interviews and players have apparently been told not to give interviews.


    The question is, who is giving the orders? Unrest between the board and the boss, if true of course, could lay in how the club respond to their treatment. If indeed the board are of the persuasion to appease the US Soccer authorities and instead Maradona pulls down the hatches, the answer could be there.



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  18. #60
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    Probably the game didn't recognise Villa Clara as eligible for the Cup so you got overlooked
    Why's the board unhappy at Diego?? he's doing a good job top of the league and all them unhappy B*st*rds in the team need to pull their socks up and do their jobs, Vamos Clara

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    Here at Copa90, we like bringing you what the others don’t and this week we’ve got a mojito at the ready, a cigar lit and rice & beans on our plate………………
    We are in CUBA!


    While on and off field drama circles El Estadio Camilo Cienfuegos in regards to its first team, their domestic activities have been rather more harmonious, according to its fan club president Anri Hernandez.

    El Barbero – as Anri likes to be known – runs the Gol de Cuba fan club and proudly dispatches the its newsletter to the residents of Zulueta and their fans across the Caribbean island. He used to run a famous barber shop in Havana, Gol de Cuba, and as we sit down for the interview, he is eager to point out the framed photos he has on the wall and points out his more famous guests, such as World Cup winning manager Cesar Luis Menotti.


    (Anri with Menotti wearing a shirt depicting Che Guevara)

    “We’ve remained a competitive force, let me tell you!” El Barbero thrusts his finger at me, lurching out of his chair as if I thought otherwise, “we have a big squad and almost exclusively there are no crossovers between the players who participate in America and the ones playing in the Campeonato.”

    VC have faced all of their domestic opponents once so far this season and have lost just once; a 1-0 loss to Sancti Spiritus in which their goalkeeper was Man of the Match. It also serves as Maradona’s only scouting network as the club’s policy is to only purchase players playing in Cuba; and ‘purchase’ stretches the meaning of the word – no money changes hands – this is Cuba, after all.

    One such example of it in action since the season started is the acquisition of Angel Andreu. The football transfer website transfermarkt valued Andreu at £85,000 before his move to Villa Clara. He’d scored 8 goals and made 3 assists in the 12 games he played for Ciego de Avila and had an impressive start to the international calendar, too; in Cuba’s two games - the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas – Andreu scored three, partnering Dario Suarez up front. He’s yet to feature in Villa Clara’s first team but he’s made two appearances in their domestic squad, though he is yet to score.


    “We made a strong start,” El Barbero tells me of the 100% start they got off to with a 1-0 win against Camaguey, which was followed up with a 2-0 win over Ciego de Avila and a 1-0 victory versus Cienfuegos.

    “At that point we were still playing the 4-1-1-3-1 formation El Diego had has on to begin with, before he settled into this more Cuban form of football,” he says of the 3-3-1-2-1 that got its first outing for the first team in the 4-0 demolition. That game was all the more memorable as three of VC’s goals came after they had a man sent off in the first half.

    “The new approach actually didn’t have the same effect for our domestic side,” he points out, “we dropped our first points in our first game with it and the next one, too! Both goalless draws – Havana and then Granma.”

    The biggest contrast between the first team and its domestic equal is firepower. In the US, VC are averaging 2.43 goals per game; in Cuba they come in much lower with just 14 goals in 14 – 20 fewer – and 1.43 goals per game fewer. The standout is the number of goalless draws – 3. Their overall record is: 8 wins, 5 draws and 1 loss - and they've conceded just as few in 14 games as the first team have with 4.


    (A typical VC line up in the Campeonato de Cuba)

    “There a few players there that I see playing for the first team in the future. Ronaldo Ferrer has impressed in many of the games he has been in goal for and was even Man of the Match in one of them. In defence Daniel Cuba has looked like he could make the step up, especially now we are playing with three centre-backs, whilst Juan Manuel Milanes and Jose E.S. Soria both look capable of playing in the attacking positions.”

    Spoiler!

    Away from the gossip columns of the media and the speculation that journalism stokes, the romance at the heart of this club continues enchanting its fanbase. With one club providing two teams, and proving to be competitive on both fronts, this village is deserving of its Cradle of Football title.

    Spoiler!


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    Spoiler!

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    Spoiler!

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    Spoiler!



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    A strange game with shots on goal identical, nice update style Did their keeper have clown gloves on great win Jay

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    El Diego opens up on his first six months as manager of Cuban side FC Villa Clara and what it is like managing in the U.S.

    Villa Clara ended the group stage of the U.S. Second Division B in fantastic form, sealing promotion to the Playoffs with a 2-1 win over Wilmington before thrashing top of the table rivals Charlotte 5-0 away from home, and finishing with a 1-0 win over Penn FC at El Estadio Camilo Cienfuegos thanks to a Maikel Reyes strike. It meant they finished the group stage unbeaten, winning 14 of their 18 games, scoring 36 - the most in their group by 1 over Charlotte - and conceding the fewest with just six. Now, teleSUR regular and Villa Clara manager Diego Maradona shares his thoughts and feelings on the season so far.

    "It is never easy for me in the U.S. and it is never easy for Cuba, so the mix of the two was always going to be a challenge and perhaps, yes, at first it was a rocky relationship," El Diego told viewers of “De la mano del Diez," the T.V. show he is currently co-hosting with the famous Spanish-language commentator Victor Hugo Morales focusing on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

    "It becomes even harder when there are those who wish to undermine us, like The Miami Herald. Every article they publish on us is an attack whether it is veiled or not, whether it is overt politically or if it's subtext is to harm Cuba. It is petty."



    Villa Clara are now competing in the Promotion Playoffs in a league of ten teams who will all play each other home and away. A top two finish will guarantee them promotion to the US Second Division A, the second tier of US Soccer.

    "It was good to start the playoffs with a win. Bay Area Hurricanes[whom they played first and beat 4-0] are a good side at this level. They finished second in their group, joint on points with the top team Tulsa Rednecks. We have a very consistent style of football now and the win there was symptomatic of that style: Zuanzabar, Reyes and Valdes got the goals, Raciel Torres got an assist, and Danilo Torres was fantastic in goal."

    The opening day win sticks VC top of the table but it is likely to be tougher than their group stage as all the teams in the playoffs either topped their group or were runners up. Fellow Group 3 qualifiers Charlotte started almost as well by beating Reno 1868 FC 3-0.

    "The board and I have sat down and spoken about how the club should be managed and what we want from this project: do we want success at all costs? is our priority to represent Cuba before all else? should we conform to the expectations of US and in fact world soccer?

    "Much has been said about players wanting to leave us and seeing this [VC's games in the US] as an opportunity to leave Cuba. It is not true. We have players that are unhappy, yes, but it is because they are professionals, because they want to see the club doing better, because they want to be playing more. The few that are unhappy for reasons other than that are unhappy because their teammates are unhappy, but that is comradeship, that is Cuban Socialism at its strongest

    With praise due, Maradona candidly spoke about more controversial topics, such as VC's exclusion from the US Open Cup.

    "We've been promised a place next season and god willing, we will take that place. It does not answer the question as to why we did not participate this year. We received no communication at all; at first I thought maybe we had a bye through the first round due to an odd number of teams or to make the format of rounds work, but no. Nothing.




    Russia World Cup 2018

    Later in the show, Maradona discussed the upcoming World Cup and gave some of his predictions and opinions on the teams and players who will make the spectacle.

    "Perhaps it is Messi's last chance for success on this stage, yes. Can he do it? I'm not sure. I want Argentina to do well, of course. Losing Romero so close to the tournament starting was a big loss but Caballero is very experienced and much of his career defining moments have come in knockout football, in penalty shoot-outs, in those dramatic moments that the World Cup is full of.

    "My favourites to win it are Spain in spite of the sacking of Julen Lopetegui. That was handled badly on all sides in my opinion, but I think they will rally round each other and it will be the thing that defines them.

    "Olivier Giroud will be a big player in this tournament, I think. I can see him winning the Golden Boot, especially if France make it all the way to the final, but I have them to reach the semi-finals and at that point I expect them to drop out. I am not a big fan of Deschamps or his selections.


    ****************************

    Next up for Diego Maradona's Villa Clara is Tobacco Road FC. They topped Group 2 but lost their opening playoff game 1-0 to Orange County. You can follow VC's season here.



    Spoiler!

  28. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JayFlo For This Useful Post:


  29. #67
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    vCash
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    Unbeaten and the board are generally satisfied!! Wow don't go overboard there CEO's - good luck in the playoffs

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