Cuba reach Gold Cup quarterfinals despite four defections and -7 goal difference

With just one goal scored and the worst goal difference in the Gold Cup group stage, Cuba have advanced to the quarterfinals, where they will face the U.S. Because this is CONCACAF — a place that logic rarely visits.

Six players and manager Raul Gonzalez Triana missed Cuba’s first match of the tournament — a 6-0 loss to Mexico — due to visa troubles, and a total of four players who went missing and were presumed to have defected over the course of the group stage, including two just before their final group match against Guatemala. But Cuba pulled out a 1-0 win with their only goal of the tournament thus far to finish third in Group C and advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 2003 with a goal difference of -7 (more than double that of last-place Guatemala).

Surely this all played out exactly how they planned it.

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