WILLEMSTAD, Curacao - It has been a remarkable 12 months for the Curacao National Team.
In the last year alone, the Caribbean nation won its first ever Caribbean Cup, played in its first ever Gold Cup, and last week earned a 1-1 draw and then a 1-0 win over CONMEBOL side Bolivia in front of the home fans in Willemstad.
Speaking with Concacaf.com, Curacao Head Coach Remko Bicentini reflected on what the results versus Bolivia say about his team.
"To get to a high level is in my opinion not the most difficult, but to be able to continue playing there is what matters," said Bicentini.
"We won after the Gold Cup in and against Qatar and now had these last two games against Bolivia. Bolivia is a big opponent for us, and much higher in the FIFA rankings. We have mainly learned to deal with certain situations in a disciplined way throughout the game. The players of Bolivia are accustomed to playing big matches and we had to make sure that we kept playing our own game for these two games, using our strengths and not adapting to Bolivia in order to achieve a good result. We did well," added Bicentini.
Last summer's Gold Cup proved to be a great learning experience for Bicentini's squad. Although they lost all three matches to Jamaica (2-0), El Salvador (2-0) and Mexico (2-0), the lessons learned have since been applied.
"We were able to offer good resistance [at the Gold Cup], but we fell short in terms of finishing the chances we had in all three matches. In the games after the Gold Cup we did well against Qatar. Only in the first match against Bolivia did we fall back into our familiar pattern of creating many opportunities, but not finishing. In the second game we did better. I think we have improved a lot in holding our own under heavy resistance from a strong opponent like Bolivia," said Bicentini.
It all sets up Curacao to have a successful campaign in 2019/20 Concacaf Nations League CNL qualifying in which the Caribbean side will face Grenada, Cuba, Guadeloupe and Antigua and Barbuda.
Bicentini certainly likes how his team is shaping up for the four matches.
"Our chances in the Concacaf Nations League are good if we retain and improve our current, then we can also take steps in this new League. They are four nice opponents, against which we have to go all the way to achieve our desired result," concluded Bicentini.