2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan
Grenada first to be eliminated, St. Lucia bow out after penalty-kicks
In the Concacaf region, Grenada was the first of 195 competing national associations to be eliminated from the race to the finals of the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. Both matches against Barbados had ended 2-2 in regular time. Despite having home advantage in the return leg, Grenada left the pitch in St. George as losers, when Barbados' Llewellyn Riley scored the golden goal six minutes into extra-time.
The return leg between Surinam and St. Lucia also provided some drama. The St. Lucians, who had won 1-0 at home, were able to fend off all Surinamese attacks until the 80th minute when Alberto Doesburj saved his team on the brink of elimination. No golden goal was scored in extra-time and Surinam finally settled the matter by winning the ensuing penalty-kicks 3-1.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines as well as Bermuda scored an aggregate of 14 goals each in their first-round matches against the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands respectively. Haiti needed the help of prolific striker, Pierre Golman, who scored a hat trick in the second half of the match against Montserrat after lagging 0-1 behind at half-time. Haiti, however, were never in great danger having won the home leg 4-0.
Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Cuba and the Bahamas also advanced to the second round. Trinidad and Tobago cruised to a 1-1 away draw to the Netherlands Antilles (aggregate 6-1 for Trinidad/Tobago). Aruba defended their 4-2 advantage by keeping Puerto Rico at bay (2-2). Cuba held the Cayman Islands to a scoreless draw whereas the Bahamas defeated Anguilla 2-1 (aggregate score 5-1). St. Kitts & Nevis all but settled the matter against Turks & Caicos with their 8-0 victory in the first leg. The return match on 21 March should be a mere formality.
In the Central American round-robin, Panama snatched three precious away points in Diriamba against Nicaragua. Guatemala defeated Belize 2-1 in a match moved to San Pedro Sula (Honduras). Due to a border conflict between Guatemala and Belize, FIFA had ruled that the game be played on neutral ground.