Liberia has a giant bull’s eye on them as defending champ, none bigger than the one from South Africa, as both teams are back in the same group for consecutive years. Liberia held on a year ago for a 2-1 win, which vaulted the two teams in opposite directions. South Africa will be seeking revenge when they meet on August 11 under the lights at Ramp Playground.
Spain and Guatemala will be paying close attention as they’ll seek to gain ground on the loser when they face off the following day on the same field. Spain has returned after a season off, and Guatemala is hoping to never see rain again, since both years they were eliminated on a rainy Sunday!
Ireland has to feel like this is their year to punch through – they haven’t made it out of the round of 16 in past years, despite some strong showings in the group stages.
Bosnia comes off a significant run from last year, although some say they landed in a soft group. Algeria battled in their group a year ago, but they haven’t yet had enough firepower to move on to the round of 16.
El Salvador has opened eyes in the preseason as they’ve had some impressive victories. The primetime match between El Salvador and Ireland on August 17 could be for the group or simply to advance… stay tuned!
Will this be the year Vietnam finally advances past the group stage? That is just one of the burning questions in Group L. Coach Mick thinks this is their year with a favorable draw and a team hungry to move on.
Serbia, Israel, and Kenya may argue that point! Serbia started off last year right, knocking off Liberia, then finishing the group undefeated. Israel lost their goalie in game one and never quite bounced back, but it looks like they may have righted the ship with some impressive finishes in this year’s preseason.
Kenya is the wildcard in this mix: a majority of their players came over from last year’s Refugee Team who made some noise, so we’ll see how they finish up. The Vietnam-Israel game in South Philly on August 12 is the must-see match of this group.
With Joel Embiid in their corner, how can you bet against the team from Cameroon? Lionel and his boys come back for year two after not knowing what to expect last year. He has regrouped and retooled, and who knows, maybe that local basketball player will show up to a match to cheer them on!
Brazil and Venezuela will be tough outs for anyone, especially Brazil, who returns with a bad taste in their mouth after losing to the undermanned Liberian team last year. Venezuela has retooled a bit, but they need to get much younger to hang in this group. France was happy to take home the fair play award last year and isn’t expected to make a big splash in this group.
Venezuela and Cameroon battle on August 11 at Ramp Playground – the match that could determine who moves on from Group M.
Make sure to see all 52 Unity Cup teams in action this summer!