FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – The final match of the 2023 Gold Cup Prelims needed a penalty shootout to settle things, with Saint Kitts and Nevis coming out on top over French Guiana 4-2 in spot kicks after the two sides drew 1-1 in regulation.
The Sugar Boyz very nearly took the lead in the 26th minute when Romaine Sawyers sent across a low ball to Jacob Hazel on the corner of the six-yard box, but French Guiana DF Gregory Lescot was there to block the attempt.
Saint Kitts and Nevis kept control of the match, and the breakthrough came in the 41st minute; it was Tiquanny Williams who wrestled around the defense to receive a pass from Hazel and blast the ball home to give the Sugar Boyz a deserved 1-0 lead heading into the break.
However, Les Yana Dokos did not fold. Following a handball in the box, Arnold Abelinti tied the game in the 53rd minute with a perfectly placed penalty into the bottom corner. It was Abelinti’s third goal of the Prelims.
Both sides would push for a winner, but neither could find one, sending the match to a penalty shootout with a berth in the group stage on the line.
Just as in the first preliminary round a few days ago, the Sugar Boyz executed their kicks and GK Julani Archibald came up with a huge save. Late substitute Mervin Lewis sealed the deal with a thunderbolt into the top left corner in the fourth frame, sending Saint Kitts and Nevis side into celebration.
This marks the first-ever appearance in the Gold Cup group stage for Saint Kitts and Nevis.
They will be placed in Group A with the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.