Despite strong showings against both Nicaragua and the United States, a devastating 3-0 loss to Panama knocked CONCACAF minnows Martinique out of the Gold Cup, and they will now have to endure the ignominy of the Europa League knockout rounds.
“It’s a tough way to go,” head coach Louis Marianne admitted after the rest of the weekend’s results guaranteed Martinique a trip to Europe’s second-tier continental tournament. “When we beat Nicaragua to open the group stages, I thought for sure we could make the knockout rounds, even if it was as a third place team. Now there’s not much to do except look ahead, lace up our boots on a rainy Thursday night in an unknown Turkish city, and try to do well enough in the Europa League to maybe win it all and earn our way back into the Gold Cup two years from now.”
When asked how his team was dealing with the sting of the defeat, Marianna did not mince words. “They are beyond disappointed. Many have openly stated they do not want to play for a Europa-level team and may be seeking nationalities elsewhere. However, we should be able to send a reserve squad to each game and remain competitive while we focus on our higher priorities, such as the Caribbean Cup. But it is still wounding. Europa League is neither a launching point for the men’s careers nor anything but a financial hit for this team itself. There are no positives to competing in this tournament.”
As of press time, Dutch squad Vitesse Arnhem were attempting to obtain game footage of Martinique as a potential Europa League opponent. When they were unable to find any, they turned their attentions researching the pronunciation of their own name lest any press happen to attend any of their Europa matches.