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Costa Rica books place in quarters after easing past French Guiana

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Everything was on the line for both sides entering their final group stage match, but it was Costa Rica that emerged victorious on Friday night after wasting no time in the attacking third.

[ MORE: A closer look at the Gold Cup standings ]

Los Ticos defeated French Guiana, 3-0, at Toyota Stadium behind goals from Ariel Rodriguez Araya, Rodney Wallace and David Ramirez.

The latter tallied for the Central American nation in the 83rd minute after Costa Rica began to apply more and more pressure down the stretch.

Wallace, who represents MLS side NYCFC, tacked on a second goal for the Ticos with 11 minutes remaining, after Araya had given Costa Rica the advantage after just four minutes.

With Honduras hot on the heels of both Costa Rica and Group A leader Canada, the Ticos didn’t waste any time in putting away French Guiana — who was still reeling after forfeiting its last match due to fielding an ineligible player (Florent Malouda).

The Caribbean nation went into halftime down 1-0, but things went from bad to worse for Les Yana Dòkòs when Ludovic Baal was shown a straight red card just beyond the hour mark for a rash tackle on David Guzman.

Costa Rica will reach the final eight courtesy of Friday night’s win, and Oscar Ramirez will wait to see which other team or teams advance out of Group A.

CONCACAF rules French Guiana draw a forfeit, bans Malouda

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CONCACAF came out with a strong response early Friday morning to French Guiana’s decision to break the rules and play Florent Malouda Tuesday evening in the Gold Cup.

The CONCACAF disciplinary committee announced that the match between French Guiana and Honduras, which finished as a scoreless draw on the night, would be forfeited by French Guiana, awarding Honduras a 3-0 result.

In addition, French Guiana was fined an undisclosed amount and the 37-year-old Malouda was assessed a two-match stadium ban.

[ MORE: Read PST’s Gold Cup latest ]

“As a consequence of fielding Florent Malouda, who was confirmed by the Disciplinary Committee to be ineligible to play in the Gold Cup 2017 according to the applicable regulations, the Disciplinary Committee has levied sanctions and fines against the French Guiana Football League (LGF) and has suspended the player ruled ineligible,” CONCACAF said in a statement.

Malouda of course earned 80 caps for the French National Team during a long career in Europe where he starred for Lyon and Chelsea, but began playing for his native French Guiana earlier this year, captaining the side to third place at the Caribbean Cup, which served as a qualifying tournament for the Gold Cup.

For whatever reason, CONCACAF allowed Malouda to compete for French Guiana in that competition but has decided to honor FIFA rules, which say a player cannot switch international teams once they’ve played in an official FIFA match, at the Gold Cup, which ruled Malouda ineligible for the Gold Cup. Normally FIFA rules don’t apply to French Guiana because the nation, an overseas department of France, is not a member of FIFA.

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At the same time, Malouda was allowed to be registered on the French Guiana roster, placed on the starting lineup and take the field, even though the game was almost surely going to be forfeited.

The strange situation has perhaps met its end, with French Guiana now with no chance of advancing to the knockout round of the Gold Cup with two losses through its first two games against Canada and Honduras.

French Guiana wraps up the group stage against Costa Rica on Friday evening.

Honduras wins as French Guiana purposely starts ineligible Malouda

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Honduras defeated French Guiana the moment Tuesday’s Gold Cup match kicked off, as Les Yana Dòkòs sacrificed at least a 3-0 score line in order to use an ineligible star.

CONCACAF ruled before the tournament that former French international Florent Malouda was ineligible to play in the Gold Cup, and French Guiana played along for its opening 4-2 loss to Canada.

But with its best chance for a win coming Tuesday against Honduras — Costa Rica is next — French Guiana decided to use longtime Chelsea and Lyon man Malouda and take the 3-0 loss on the table. Honduras wants to play the game because it can keep a better score line than 3-0 if the match plays out that way.

The match finished 0-0 on the field. It reads 3-0 to Honduras on the score sheet.

Section XV. A. of the Gold Cup regulations, as outlined on Fox’s broadcast, says:

Each participating member association shall select its national representative team from the best players who are nationals of its country and under its jurisdiction, and are eligible for selection in accordance with the provisions of the applicable FIFA regulations.

While the idea to put forth a better show on the international stage is laudable in some ways, the move really stings Canada and could also hurt the third place team in the other groups. The Canucks beat French Guiana 4-2, and have a plus-2 goal differential on the table. That’s one better than Costa Rica, but now Honduras and perhaps CRC will score at least 3-0 wins.

The winners and runners-up of Group B will avoid a group winner in the next round, while two of the three third-place teams will also advance. This result assures that third place in Group A will have no fewer than three points and could have as many as four.

We’d also expect some post-match or tourney punishment for French Guiana.

FOLLOW LIVE – Gold Cup kicks off with Canada, Honduras, Costa Rica

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Red Bull Arena plays host to the first two matches of the 2017 Gold Cup, as a quartet of teams hope to get the tournament started on the right foot.

Octavio Zambrano’s Canada has a match it has to win when 37-year-old Florent Malouda (maybe) and French Guiana take the field in the 7 p.m. ET opener.

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

If you’re saying to yourself, “Didn’t Malouda earn almost 100 caps for France?”, the answer is “Yup, almost.” Malouda made 80 appearances but can play for French Guiana as Les Yana Dòkòs are not a FIFA-recognized side. There is some question as to whether Malouda will be allowed to participate, according to Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus.

Then almost full-strength Costa Rica will hope to hearken memories of its memorable 2014 World Cup run when it matches up with scrappy Honduras at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Zambrotta will try to convince Ibrahimovic to finish career in India

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Indian Super League club Delhi Dynamos has a big name manager who wants to bring an even bigger name to Delhi.

Thirty-nine year old Gianluca Zambrotta moved to India after two seasons running Swiss club Chiasso.

He has Delhi off to a 1-1 start this year, leading a team whose most recognizable player in Florent Malouda. That would change if Zambrotta convinces his former Juventus and AC Milan teammate Zlatan Ibrahimovic to give India a try.

[ MORE: Xhaka compares Premier League, Bundesliga ]

While few expect Zlatan to go one-and-done with Manchester United, the Big Swede has talked about finishing his career outside Europe. And if the money is there in India, maybe Zambrotta can help.

From IndianExpress.com:

Zambrotta in an exclusive interview to Indian Express said ‘Ibra’ will not mind playing in India after his retirement from European football.

“Given his fan following in India, I think Zlatan would want to come and end his career here. On my end, I will definitely try and convince him to play for Delhi Dynamos,” Zambrotta said.

It all seems kinda crazy, but we’re sure reading “David Beckham is going to take his career to the United States” once seemed just as nuts. Nothing impending, but perhaps bookmark this one.