Is St. Kitts and Nevis Really The Third Best Caribbean National Team?

Discussion in 'Caribbean' started by EvanJ, Jun 29, 2016.

  1. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    FIFA says that in the July 2016 rankings, St. Kitts and Nevis will pass Haiti for third in the Caribbean behind Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. St. Kitts and Nevis has never qualified for a Gold Cup. Since they lost all 6 Semifinal games in 2004 in qualifying for World Cup 2006, they haven't come close to reaching the Semifinals in qualifying for World Cups 2010, 2014, and 2018. Do you think they're really the third best Caribbean national team?
     
  2. Athlone

    Athlone Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Country:
    Jamaica
    No, this just shows the limits of FIFA rankings. The Kittians have been in good form in early qualification for the 2017 Caribbean Cup, for which they've already played several games this year. They've won all of them (Suriname, St. Vincent, Antigua, and Aruba are among the victims). While they've been doing this, many of the bigger Caribbean teams have been sitting idle, playing less valuable friendlies, or competing in bigger tournaments where they can't rack up results as easily.

    In short, the Kittians are benefiting from getting a bunch of competitive games against teams that, while also minnows like themselves, aren't as capable as they are. They're playing big fish-small pond, and that allows for good form in competitive games which inflates the FIFA ranking.

    It happens every Caribbean Cup cycle. Last time around, the Antiguans were among the beneficiaries of this phenomenon, getting as high as 70th in the world. This was 40 places above Jamaica and 23 places beyond Haiti. This was done, again, purely on the back of Caribbean Cup qualification - Jamaica was hosting the 2014 Caribbean Cup and had very few compeititive games to play in 2014. It played in several friendlies instead, earning close losses to Switzerland and Serbia, drawing Egypt, and getting their B-team demolished by France.

    Antigua, meanwhile, had a ton of competitive games on schedule that year, dominating the first round of qualification for the 2014 Caribbean Cup in September (dominating Anguilla, the Dominican Republic, and St. Vincent) and losing only once in the final qualifying round to Trinidad (who, it must also be noted, benefited their own rankings immensely via Caribbean Cup qualification that year as well). In short, while Jamaica was flying to Japan and Switzerland to take on some of the world's better sides and losing, Antigua was cleaning up smaller fish in the Caribbean. FIFA awarded the "form" team.

    Now, to your question: is St. Kitts better than all but two other Caribbean national sides? The answer is most likely no. Again, look back to the recent Antigua example for an idea of how things might go. Remeber that 2014 Caribbean Cup qualification pushed Antigua into the top 70, far above both Haiti and Jamaica at the time. Jamaica hosting the 2014 Caribbean Cup, and won it after handily defeating Antigua 3-0 on the way. Haiti finished 3rd in the tournament. The Antiguans, to their credit, did manage a 2-2 draw with Haiti during the group stage, but ultimately finished at the bottom of their group (which included both Jamaica and Haiti).

    So, in short, the likely answer to your question is no, the Kittians are not a top 3 Caribbean team. They are being made to look like one because of the scheduling of the Caribbean Cup (which, to their credit, they've taken full advantage of by dominating their local rivals) and the FIFA rankings' emphasis on competitive form. The real hierarchy in the Caribbean will be made clearer later this year during the 3rd round of 2017 Caribbean Cup qualification, which is when Trinidad, Jamaica, and Haiti get involved - the Kittians will have to deal with the Haitians in group 2 play, and that's when we figure out how good they actually are (these are 3 team groups and only the top team advances automatically to the Caribbean Cup finals in 2017 - there's a 5th place playoff possibility for the best 3 group runner-ups to play in November, with one winner advancing from that meet-up).
     
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  3. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
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    #3 EvanJ, Jun 29, 2016
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2016
    I didn't remember that Jamaica had fallen that far down the FIFA Rankings. From June 2013 to June 2016, they have moved from 49th to 113th to 46th. In the FIFA Rankings, beating bad teams helps you more than losing to anybody. Regardless of how well a team plays in a loss to Argentina, it's bad for their FIFA Ranking. The RPI for NCAA sports is the opposite. It values strength of schedule in a way that a team could have their RPI get worse during a winning streak covering over half of the season because of their weak opponents. In reality, the best way to compare teams could be something in between.
     
  4. Athlone

    Athlone Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Country:
    Jamaica
    I agree, and that's why I have some issues with the FIFA rankings. Jamaica, for all of our administration's many problems, at least attempts to find decent friendly match-ups whenever they can with quality sides who can test the team. We get no real reward for this from FIFA, while other teams take easy street and get pumped up.

    I'm starting to think that we need to find some way to game the rankings. If we can't beat them, we should join them. I doubt that happens any time soon, though.
     
  5. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    http://www.football-rankings.info/p/consulting.html
    Would you like the Jamaican FA to pay for advice about how to improve their FIFA Ranking? For some countries their FIFA Ranking is more important than for others. Under the current WCQ format, each Semifinal group has one of the Top 3, one of the Second 3, and 2 winners from the previous round. Jamaica isn't likely to be in the Top 3 in CONCACAF. Their goal should be to be in the Top 6 so they start in the Semifinals and have an easier group. Jamaica's FIFA Ranking is irrelevant to the Hexagonal since its only one group, and if Jamaica qualifies for a World Cup they're not going to be one of the eight seeded teams.
     
  6. Athlone

    Athlone Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Country:
    Jamaica
    I don't think they need to pay for advice. Many fans (including myself) can tell them what it takes for free. This isn't rocket science.

    As for the importance of rankings, I'd argue that many observers and Jamaica itself underestimate the degree to which they matter for us. Starting in the Semi-Finals would be very beneficial for Jamaica. Had we managed the feat that Trinidad managed back in 2013 and 2014 (gaming their FIFA ranking by whooping on minnows), it would be Jamaica in group C cruising to the hex right now instead of the Trinis. A better ranking could have helped us avoid the group of death we're currently in, and could very well have been the difference between making the Hex from an easier group and missing out in an extremely difficult one.

    A stronger ranking would also be very beneficial for our players, who have traditionally looked to the UK as a source of professional opportunities. Our low rankings have kept the British door closed on our internationals for a couple of years now. We might have an extra EPL player or two were it not for this and we'd have several more players getting more opportunities and more income than they currently do. Our nation has a relatively small player pool (about 55 players, plus another 20 or so who are English-born professionals and are currently available to Jamaica). It is imperative that we cultivate as many high quality opportunities for this player pool as we can, and a higher FIFA ranking would actually help us do this.

    Finally, a higher ranking is good for perception. You and I both know the limits of FIFA rankings, but the average fan and many a business/sponsor isn't as keenly aware as we are. To them, higher ranking = better team. If we were consistently top 40 or so, it would do good things for the general perception of our side's quality and probably could end up boosting the number of opportunities for our players as well.

    In short, I don't think we've done a very good job managing the FIFA Ranking system and making it work for us. Things could be far better.
     
  7. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
    Here are the points in the WCQ Semifinals for Caribbean teams other than Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago:

    For World Cup 2014: Antigua and Barbuda 1, Guyana 1, and Cuba 1
    For World Cup 2010: Cuba 3, Haiti 3, and Suriname 2 (Haiti and Suriname played 2 draws against each other)
    For World Cup 2006: St. Vincent and the Grenadines 6 and St. Kitts and Nevis 0 (St. Vincent and the Grenadines got all their points against St. Kitts and Nevis)

    Cuba is the only team listed above to get a Semifinal win against another team listed above. That was when Cuba beat Guatemala 2:1.

    Take September, October, and November 2018 after the World Cup when you want your FIFA Ranking to be good for the WCQ draw. If you could pick any six teams (two per month) for Jamaica to play to improve its FIFA Ranking, who would you pick? UEFA teams will probably have Euro 2020 qualifying or UEFA Nations League games then, but ignore that and pretend any team is available if they are willing to play Jamaica. Only propose away games if you think Jamaica would be willing to spend the money traveling, and don't propose two games in the same month with long travel between them.
     
  8. Athlone

    Athlone Member

    Feb 2, 2013
    Country:
    Jamaica
    Games against any of the stronger Eastern Caribbean sides (preferably Antigua or St. Kitts) plus Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Canada, and maybe Venezuela would do. I also don't see why we must necessarily travel - these games could be scheduled at home.
     
  9. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States
  10. EvanJ

    EvanJ Member+

    Manchester United
    United States
    Mar 30, 2004
    Nassau County, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    Country:
    United States

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