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Down to 10 players, Cuba carries on
March 14th, 2008 6:45AM



[OLYMPIC QUALIFYING] Cuba's shrinking under-23 national team was down to 10 eligible players by kickoff time Thursday night in Tampa, but its game against Honduras went ahead.

Incredibly, the shorthanded Cubans held off Honduras for 68 minutes before goals from Marvin Sanchez and Hendry Thomas gave the Catrachos a 2-0 win.

Almost immediately after Cuba's 1-1 tie with the USA on Tuesday night, five players -- Jose Manuel Miranda, Yenier Bermudez, Erlys Garcia Baro, Yordany Alvarez and Loanni Prieto -- disappeared in a plan hatched while back in Cuba. Two more players -- Yendry Diaz and Eder Roldan -- defected Wednesday night.

To make matters worse, Roberto Linares, the goalscorer against the USA, was automatically suspended a game for receiving a red card. That left Cuba coach Raul Gonzalez with only 10 of his 18 players available for the Honduras game.

"It was a difficult result," Gonzalez said. "It was hard to play with 10 players. That's asking a lot. But I think we played well."

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