x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Mexico cleared to replace suspended players for Gold Cup

Concacaf give Mexico the green light to replace five players who test positive for a banned anabolic agent, while USA and Panama advance to the semi-finals.

The US forward Landon Donovan, centre, challenges Jamaica's Ryan Johnson during their Concacaf Gold Cup semi-final. The US won 2-0.
The US forward Landon Donovan, centre, challenges Jamaica's Ryan Johnson during their Concacaf Gold Cup semi-final. The US won 2-0.

NEW YORK // Mexico have been given permission to replace the five players who were suspended from the Concacaf Gold Cup for failing out-of-competition doping tests.

The Mexican Football Federation (Femexfut) has denied their players did anything wrong, saying they tested positive for a banned anabolic agent after eating contaminated meat, and asked that they be replaced for the rest of the tournament.

The Concacaf Gold Cup Organising Committee announced it had agreed, after consulting with Fifa, football's world governing body, that Mexico be allowed to replace the players while the case is continuing.

"Based on the specific facts of this case, and on Fifa's advice on the matter, the situation at hand is a case of force majeure as contemplated in the competition regulations," a Concacaf statement read.

"Therefore the Mexican national team shall be permitted to replace the five ... players with up to five other players for the remainder of the competition.'

Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, defenders Francisco Rodriguez and Edgar Duenas, and midfielders Sinha and Christian Bermudez all tested positive for clenbuterol and were suspended from the regional tournament.

Femexfut attributed the positive results to ingestion of clenbuterol in meat eaten by the players when on a training camp in Mexico to prepare for the Gold Cup and has conducted independent tests they hope will exonerate them.

Despite being five players down since the opening match of the tournament, Mexico remain undefeated and are safely through to the semi-finals where they play Honduras in Texas this week.

Meanwhile the US and Panama have booked their places in the semi-finals last night.

Panama secured their berth in dramatic fashion, beating El Salvador 5-3 on penalties after a controversial Luis Tejada equaliser in the 90th minute forced extra-time.

Rodolfo Zelaya had put El Salvador in front with a 78th minute penalty.

Tejada converted in the penalty shoot-out, making the clinching shot after Nelson Barahona, Luis Renteria, Anibal Godoy and Amilcar Henriquez converted.

Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo stopped the first penalty he faced in the decider, from El Salvador's Dennis Alas.

"If things don't go your way in terms of soccer, you have to look for other ways to reach your goals," Panama coach Julio Dely Valdes said. "We have got a result in a way we're not used to.

"I think Panama never stopped fighting, and that's how we reached the goal, which is the most important thing going forward."

Both coaches were unhappy with some of the referee's calls.

Tejada's goal in the last minute of normal time first appeared to have been saved by El Salvador keeper Miguel Montes, but he was in the net and it was determined the ball crossed the goal-line.

After a delay in posting the goal on the scoreboard, it was briefly taken down then put up again.

"It's an elimination that has been conditioned by human error made by the referees, which is OK because they are human and they can make mistakes," El Salvador coach Ruben Israel said. Both Panama and El Salvador played extra time with just 10 men after Panama's Blas Perez and El Salvador's Luis Anaya were sent off after a scuffle at the end of normal time.

Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey sealed the USA's passage into the last four in a 2-0 victory over Jamaica.

German-born midfielder Jones, making his ninth appearance for the US, fired a shot from outside the area on 49 minutes that was deflected by Jamaican defender Jermaine Taylor's outstretched leg past goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.

The United States gained a man advantage after Taylor was sent off in the 67th minute for a foul on Jones.

The US made the most of the advantage with Dempsey's goal in the 80th minute. A cross from Juan Agudelo found Dempsey alone on the left side of the goal. Ricketts came out to contest, and Dempsey eluded him and slotted the ball home.

"We just played good football," Dempsey said. "We were patient. We were confident. We moved the ball around well."

Agudelo had come on in the 12th minute for Jozy Altidore, who departed with a strained left hamstring.

"I thought we were in the game until we gave up the first goal," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said. "Even one man down, I think we were still in the game, still getting chances."