Group D: Honduras, Kenya, Guatemala, TurkeyIn this year’s Group D, we have a clear cut favorite to win the group in Honduras. Honduras always comes out and wins games in the group stage, but they have struggled making any noise in the knockout rounds. Will this be the year that this trend changes? Competing for the 2nd spot in the knockout round are a somewhat inconsistent Guatemala team, an unreliable Kenya team, and a Turkey team that is coming off a 2-year Unity Cup hiatus. This spot seems like it is up for grabs, so the team who can score and defend the best of the 3 should cruise their way to a knockout round birth. But this is definitely easier said than done.
Staff Predictions: Honduras and Guatemala advance.
Group E: Brazil, Togo, Panama, VietnamThis year’s Group E is made up of 4 solid Unity Cup representatives. Brazil was able to cruise through their group last year but was upset by Ukraine in the round of 16. They are back and looking to redeem themselves. Togo and Vietnam are coming off underwhelming group stage performances, but both are optimistic they can advance and potentially knock off a top level team. Panama returns to the Unity Cup after taking 2018 off and has had a promising showing in their friendly games, tying Belize and Haiti. We think they can bring their solid play from their friendlies to the group stage and pull off an upset or two after advancing with Brazil.
Staff Predictions: Brazil and Panama advance.
Group F: Guinea, Mali, Israel, EnglandThis year’s Group F has been labeled this year’s “Group of Death.” Not only did each of the 4 teams in this group advance to the knockout rounds last year, but they also won 2 group stage games and had positive goal differentials. Although Guinea was the only team of the 4 to advance to the Round of 16, Mali was close to joining them. If it wasn’t for running into a hot Ukraine team and losing in PKs, Mali could have made some noise in the later rounds. We do believe that Guinea and Mali are the favorites to come out of this group but don’t tell that to Israel and England. Both teams have added to their already talented rosters and are looking to not only advance to the round of 26 but to make some serious noise in the later rounds of the tournament. If any of these teams wish to put a run in the tournament together, they better not take any games off, or they might find themselves sitting on their couches sooner than expected.
Staff Predictions: Guinea and Mali advance.