Mexico routed Cuba 6-0 in their Gold Cup Group C opener Thursday in Chicago after Cuba was forced to play without seven players total, as well as their head coach.
Striker Keiler Garcia reportedly defected to the United States one day prior to the match, and six other regular players, along with head coach Raul Gonzalez Triana, weren’t able to leave Antigua after their Olympic qualifier due to problems with their visas, according to ProSoccerTalk’s Joe Prince-Wright.
Before the match, assistant coach Walter Benitez, who was coaching the team in place of Triana, told Prince-Wright they will still “manage,” despite the frustrating situation.
“Now we have only 16 players because one has gone absent,” Benitez said. “We don’t know where he is. The lad who went away was a first-choice player but we’ll manage. We came to play a tournament and we’re going to play it.”
While Cuba attempted to manage the situation as best they could, Mexico took advantage of the undermanned team and dominated them in nearly every statistical way possible:
The game was so one-sided that at one point Cuba goalie Disovelis Guerra could only stand still and watch as a beautiful header from Mexico midfielder Andrés Guardado sailed past him:
While Garcia has left the team permanently due to his defection to the US, team officials told ESPN they expect Triana and the six other regular players stuck in Antigua to make it in time for their next match against Trinidad and Tobago Sunday.
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