2015 GROUP STAGE PREVIEW: GROUP F
By Aaron Cheris
Group F in this year's Cosmos Copa should be a tightly contested one. The group boasts a team that has been to the championship match in the last two tournaments and three teams looking to create new identities for themselves.
In 2013, NYC France was crowned champions of Cosmos Copa. In their quest to repeat in 2014, the French team was beaten by NYC Gambia in the championship game. This time around, the French are looking to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“We know that every year, the level of the tournament is higher and higher and it’s difficult to go far in this tournament,” team president Zohair Ghenania said. “I think we have smart players.”
The French defense will be a key to their success, and NYC France will count on defender Ciril Coisne to be the leader in the back. Ghenania called him a strong defender with a great awareness for the game.
But for France, winning isn’t the only goal.
“There is a human aspect of the tournament, friendship,” Ghenania said. “We’d like these special moments to last. We want to have these special moments together.”
NYC France opens atop the group looking to make a third straight championship game appearance.
The Uruguayans of NYC haven’t been able to claim a Cosmos Copa title yet. But the past isn’t stopping NYC Uruguay from dreaming of what can be accomplished in the future.
“Our goal is to get our first star,” team president Jorge Gonzalez said. “We are a very small community in the U.S. but we have a lot of desire and love for the game.”
In order to add a star above their crest, NYC Uruguay has a strategy that they will look to execute to perfection.
“We try to have the ball as much as possible and stay very organized in the back, attacking in blocks,” Gonzalez said.
Team veterans Federico Curbelo and Christoper Puentes will lead NYC Uruguay into action as the two-seed in Group G.
With the team under new management, NYC Chile trusts that they can put their recent struggles behind them.
“We’re going to show up from day one with our full squad, which we haven’t had the past few years, and just play to the level we know we can play,” coach Juan-Carlos Sarimento said through team president Marcelo Correa. “We are going to play simple and fast.”
Forwards Sabien Andres and Jordan Contreras are players to look out for. But for the Chilean team, the bond between teammates is one that they are going to cherish.
“What makes Chile special is that it’s a community here in the tri-state area,” Sarimento added through Correa. “There’s a lot of helping each other out and community efforts to help newcomers and old timers from Chile live the American dream.”
The Chilean squad was one of the last to register for the tournament, but they won’t let the late start diminish their hopes for success.
Newcomers to Cosmos Copa, NYC Honduras will have a tough task ahead of them as they try to advance out of Group F.
In their first tournament appearance, NYC Honduras is looking to make a name for themselves, as many of the players will be playing together for the first time and trying to form a team identity.
Team president German Mena said his team hopes to get to the Round of 16, but he knows how daunting the task could be.
“Right now, I’m trying to put together a bunch of guys who have experience and can play,” he said.
Starting at the bottom of the group, NYC Honduras expects their first Cosmos Copa appearance will be one to remember.