2015 GROUP STAGE PREVIEW: GROUP E
By Aaron Cheris
Group E is going to be a fight to the finish at this year's Cosmos Copa. A few teams in this group have come close to capturing a Cosmos Copa championship, but nobody has finished the job. At the end of group play, two teams will again have to wait until next year.
NYC Ireland have come so close to claiming the Cosmos Copa championship trophy, but the Irish have never had the taste of a championship.
Two semifinal appearances and a finals appearance have been as far as NYC Ireland has gotten in Cosmos Copa, but the Irish believe that this year is their time to shine. Their never say die attitude is one reason for confidence.
“I think there’s a great togetherness with our team. They don’t know when they’re beat,” team manager Austin Friel said.
Added depth is another reason for NYC Ireland to be hopeful for this year. Last year, defender Seamus Sharkey was named to the Cosmos Copa Best XI.
“What beat us last year is that we didn’t have a strong enough squad,” Friel said. “This year we’ve put together a good squad of 23, so we think that should help us get to the final this year.”
The Irish open atop the group with their hopes as high as ever.
NYC Paraguay have struggled to get out of the group stage of the tournament in the past, but that isn’t stopping them from doing what they can to improve in 2015.
The Paraguayans have a younger team than they had in the past, but they are hoping their speed and talent can push them through to the Round of 16.
Team president Dario Cabanas said his team will be in shape, and ready to execute their game plan.
In what is sure to be a difficult field, Paraguay knows what it will take to meet their goal.
As the only Asian team in Cosmos Copa, NYC Japan is carrying the weight of a continent on their shoulders, and they are more than happy to do so.
“We are proud of being one of the Asian countries because not many Asian countries have qualified in the past,” team president Jin Mori said. “We’d like to keep our place in this tournament. I think that’s very important for Asian countries.”
NYC Japan is hoping to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in team history. To do that, they will need a strong performance in their three group stage games.
“We work as a team. I think we have a tight relationship; we are really close,” Mori said.
The Japanese start as the three-seed in a strong group.
In 2010, NYC Jamaica came advanced all the way to the championship game. In that game against Poland, the Jamaicans fell a couple penalty kicks short of their first Cosmos Copa championship.
Since then, NYC Jamaica has failed to advance past the quarterfinals.
In 2009, the Jamaicans fell to NYC Ireland in the quarterfinals. This year, they will get their shot at revenge against the Irish in the group stage of the tournament.
Coming from a country with a passion for soccer and rich history, NYC Jamaica will look to get out of the basement of their group and into the Round of 16.