Cuba national football team

Nickname(s) Leones del Caribe (Lions of the Caribbean)
Association Football Association of Cuba
Confederation CONCACAF
(North America)
Sub-confederation CFU (Caribbean)
Head coach Raúl Mederos
Most caps Yénier Márquez (126)
Top scorer Lester Moré (29)
Home stadium Estadio Pedro Marrero
First colours
Second colours
Third colours
FIFA ranking
Current 181 (16 August 2018)
Highest 46 (November – December 2006)
Lowest 182 (August 2017, March–May 2018)
Elo ranking
Current 134 2 (30 August 2018)
Highest 52 (February 2005)
Lowest 143 (January 1965)
First international
 Cuba 3–1 Jamaica 
(Havana, Cuba; 16 March 1930)
Biggest win
 Cuba 9–0 Puerto Rico 
(Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; 27 May 1995)
Biggest defeat
 Sweden 8–0 Cuba 
(Antibes, France; 12 June 1938)
 Soviet Union 8–0 Cuba 
(Moscow, Soviet Union; 24 July 1980)
World Cup
Appearances 1 (first in 1938)
Best result Quarter-finals, 1938
CONCACAF Championship
& Gold Cup
Appearances 10 (first in 1971)
Best result Fourth place, 1971

The Cuba national football team is controlled by the Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba, the governing body for football in Cuba.[1] They are affiliated to the Caribbean Football Union of CONCACAF.

They were the first Caribbean team to make the World Cup, which they did in 1938. There, they defeated Romania in a replay 2–1 after drawing against them 3–3. They were then eliminated in the quarter-finals by Sweden, 8–0. Cuba has not returned to the World Cup since.

Cuba finished second in the Caribbean Cup in 1996, 1999 and 2005 and won the 2012 Caribbean Cup.


Early history

Cuba played its first international football match on 16 March 1930 at that year's Central American and Caribbean Games. They beat Jamaica (then a British colony) 3–1 in Havana. Four days later they beat Honduras 7–0.[2] Cuba were managed by José Tapia, who remained in charge until after Cuba's 1938 FIFA World Cup campaign. Cuba's first World Cup qualification campaign was for the 1934 FIFA World Cup in Italy. All of the CONCACAF entrants were placed in Group 11. The winner of a best-of-three tournament between the two weakest nations, Cuba and Haiti would produce a winner to play 1930 qualifiers Mexico in another round of best-of-three. The winner of that would play 1930 semi-finalists the United States of America for a place in the finals. All of the matches between Cuba and Haiti in the first round were staged at Parc Leconte in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 28, 1 and 4 January February 1934. Cuba won the first match 3–1 with Mario Lopez opening from a penalty and Hector Socorro scoring the second. The second match was a 1–1 draw with Lopez equalising in the 85th minute. In the final match Cuba won 6–0 with two Lopez goals, one from Hector Socorro and one from his brother Francisco. The second round against Mexico consisted of three matches at Parque Necaxa in Mexico City. Its first match, on 4 March 1934, saw Mexico go 3–0 up with a hat-trick by Dionisio Mejia, his goals scored in the 12th, 14th and 16th minutes. Mario Lopez scored twice for Cuba with one in each half, but Mexico won 3–2. A week later Mejia scored another hat-trick as Mexico won 5–0, and seven days later Mexico won 4–1 after Lopez opened the scoring in the 15th minute. Mexico did not qualify, their 4–2 play-off defeat to the United States was held in Rome during the finals, as the two teams had forgotten to stage it earlier


The decision to stage the 1938 World Cup in France was poorly received in the Americas, who had hoped for it to return to South America after the 1934 World Cup in Italy. All nations in South America except Brazil withdrew, and all CONCACAF nations except Cuba, thus the two qualified by default. The tournament was held as a straight knock-out tournament of 16 nations. Cuba were drawn to play their first-ever World Cup finals match against Romania (who were making their third finals appearance) at Stade Chapou in Toulouse, on 5 June 1938. Silviu Bindea put Romania ahead after 35 minutes and Hector Socorro equalised nine minutes later. With three minutes remaining Tomas Fernandez gave Cuba the lead, but within a minute Iuliu Baratky forced extra time with a Romanian equaliser. Romania went 3–2 up in extra-time by Stefan Dobay's goal on 105 minutes, but Juan Tuñas equalised for Cuba with three minutes of extra-time remaining. The replay was held at the same stadium, on 9 June. This was at the same time as Switzerland's 4–2 replay win over Germany. Dobay put Romania 1–0 up at half-time with a 35th-minute goal, but in the second half Cuba equalised through Socorro in the 51st minute. Six minutes later, Carlos Oliviera scored the winning goal and it ended 2–1. In the quarter-final Cuba lost 8–0 to Sweden at Stade du Fort Carre in Antibes, on 12 June. Sweden's Tore Keller and Gustav Wetterstrom each scored hat-tricks.[3]

The NAFC Championship 1949 served as CONCACAF's qualification group for the 1950 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Cuba, the United States of America and Mexico played each other twice in a tournament held in Mexico City in September 1949. The top two would qualify. Cuba came third and did not qualify, their only point was gained from their second match, a 1–1 draw against the United States on 14 September. Cuba did not compete in World Cup qualification again until 1966. They returned to participation in qualification for 1978, but the 1982 qualifiers represented a significant breakthrough- Cuba reached the final round of qualifying, and were only 2 points short of reaching the 1982 World Cup. In recent years, Cuban football has seen an improvement in results.


They reached the Quarter-finals of the 2003 Gold Cup (where they were beaten by the USA) by defeating Canada 2–0 in the Group Stage. During the 2006 World Cup qualifiers Cuba faced Costa Rica and were only eliminated on away goals. They held Costa Rica to a draw in Havana 2–2 and later battled it out for a 1–1 draw in Costa Rica. During the 2010 World Cup qualifiers Cuba faced Antigua & Barbuda and drew 3–3 against Antigua & Barbuda. Later in Pedro Marreo Cuba won 4–1 to advance to the semifinal round of the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers. Cuba was with United States, Trinidad & Tobago and Guatemala. Cuba finished in the fourth place with only a victory against Guatemala 2–1 with a goal scored by Aliannis Urgellés. They finished in third place in the Caribbean Cup 2010 to take a place in Gold Cup 2011. In 2012 Cuba won the Caribbean Cup for the first time.

For the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Cuban team qualified directly to the Third Round as one of the six highest ranked teams and were placed in Group C with Honduras, Panama, and Canada. Although the Cuban team had several close games, they ended their qualification process with 1 draw and 5 defeats (losing home and away to Canada and Honduras and drawing to Panama in Havana in their final game after losing in Panama City). Their only goal of the qualifying campaign came from Alberto Gomes against Panama in the final game of the group stage.

Competitive record

World Cup record

Year Round Position GP W D* L GS GA
1930 Did not enter
1934 Did not qualify
1938 Quarter-finals 8th 3 1 1 1 5 12
1950 Did not qualify
1954 Entry not accepted[4]
1958 Did not enter
1966 Did not qualify
1970 Entry not accepted[4]
1974 Did not enter
1978 Did not qualify
1986 Did not enter
1990 Did not qualify
1994 Withdrew
1998 Did not qualify
2022 To be determined
Total Quarter-finals 1/21 3 1 1 1 5 12

CONCACAF Championship/Gold Cup record

CONCACAF Championship
Year Result Position Pld W T L GF GA
1963Did Not Enter
1967Did Not Qualify
1969Did Not Enter
1971Fourth Place4th512257
1973Did Not Enter
1977Did Not Qualify
1981Final Round5th512248
1985Did Not Enter
1989Did Not Qualify
1993Did Not Enter
1996Did Not Qualify
1998Group Stage10th2002210
2000Did Not Qualify
2002Group Stage11th201101
2005Group Stage12th300339
2007Group Stage12th301239
2011Group Stage12th3003116
2017Did Not Qualify
2019To Be Determined

NAFC Championship record

  • 1947 – Runner-up
  • 1949 – Third place

Caribbean Cup record

  • 1989 Did not enter
  • 1990 Did not enter
  • 1991 Withdrew
  • 1992 – Fourth place
  • 1993 Did not enter
  • 1994 Withdrew
  • 1995 – Third place
  • 1996 – Second place
  • 1997 Did not enter
  • 1998 Did not qualify
  • 1999 – Second place
  • 2001 – Fourth place
  • 2005 – Second place
  • 2007 – Third place
  • 2008 – Fourth place
  • 2010 – Third place
  • 2012 Winners
  • 2014 – Fourth place
  • 2017 Did not qualify


Current squad

The following 19 players were called up for the friendly match against Guatemala on 16 August 2018.

Caps and goals as of 25 March 2018 after the game against Nicaragua.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Sandy Sánchez (1994-05-24) 24 May 1994 5 0 Las Tunas
12 1GK Elier Pozo (1995-01-28) 28 January 1995 1 0 Pinar del Río
21 1GK Nelson Johnston (1990-02-25) 25 February 1990 1 0 Santiago de Cuba

2 2DF Andy Baquero (1994-08-17) 17 August 1994 13 0 Pinar del Río
3 2DF Erick Rizo (1991-02-28) 28 February 1991 2 0 Santiago de Cuba
4 2DF Yasmany López (1987-10-11) 11 October 1987 17 1 Ciego de Ávila
6 2DF Yosel Piedra (1994-03-27) 27 March 1994 8 0 Ciego de Ávila
8 2DF Orisbel Leiva (1990-09-14) 14 September 1990 5 1 Ciego de Ávila
15 2DF Leonis Martínez (1989-02-03) 3 February 1989 2 0 Santiago de Cuba
19 2DF Jorge Kindelán (1986-04-12) 12 April 1986 0 0 Santiago de Cuba
23 2DF José Almelo (1996-06-03) 3 June 1996 0 0 Pinar del Río

7 3MF Rolando Abreu (1992-05-15) 15 May 1992 2 0 Santiago de Cuba
11 3MF Yordan Santa Cruz (1993-10-07) 7 October 1993 5 2 Santiago de Cuba
14 3MF Neiser Sandó (1998-10-26) 26 October 1998 1 0 Santiago de Cuba
20 3MF Luismel Morris (1997-12-14) 14 December 1997 2 0 Camagüey
22 3MF Roberney Caballero (1995-11-02) 2 November 1995 3 0 Camagüey

13 4FW Eddie Gelkis (1991-03-26) 26 March 1991 17 1 Santiago de Cuba
17 4FW Allan Pérez (1996-07-19) 19 July 1996 2 0 Ciego de Ávila
18 4FW Reinaldo Pérez (1987-10-11) 11 October 1987 2 0 Pinar del Río

Previous squads

Defection and economic migration by Cuban athletes

As well as Cuban athletes in other sports, a number of football players (such as Maykel Galindo and Osvaldo Alonso) have made the move to the United States in recent years. During the 2002 Gold Cup in Los Angeles, two Cuban players Rey Ángel Martínez and Alberto Delgado chose to remain in the United States. Striker Maykel Galindo did so during the 2005 Gold Cup. Two more, Osvaldo Alonso and Lester More did so during the 2007 Gold Cup.

In 2008, defections occurred during two separate tournaments held in the United States. In March, seven players from the U-23 national football, including Yeniel Bermúdez, Yordany Álvarez and Yendry Díaz defected during the 2008 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament while the team was based in Tampa, FL. In October, two days before the country's World Cup Qualifier versus the USA, Reynier Alcántara and Pedro Faife walked away from the team's hotel near Washington, D.C.. During the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Yosniel Mesa defected while the team was in Charlotte, North Carolina.[5] During the 2015 Gold Cup, forward Keiler García defected to the United States before the team's first match against Mexico in Chicago.[6]

Recent results and forthcoming fixtures

Date Venue Opponent Result Competition
14 June 2015 Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana  Curaçao 1–1 2018 WCQ
9 July 2015 Soldier Field, Chicago  Mexico 0–6 2015 Gold Cup
12 July 2015 University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale  Trinidad and Tobago 0–2 2015 Gold Cup
15 July 2015 Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte  Guatemala 1–0 2015 Gold Cup
18 July 2015 M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore  United States 0–6 2015 Gold Cup
23 September 2015 Estadio Panamericano, Havana  Nicaragua 0–1 Friendly
25 September 2015 Estadio Panamericano, Havana  Nicaragua 1–1 Friendly
8 December 2015 Nicaragua National Football Stadium, Managua  Nicaragua 0–5 Friendly
12 December 2015 Estadio Independencia, Estelí  Nicaragua 0–1 Friendly
16 December 2015 Estadio Juan Ramón Brevé Vargas, Juticalpa  Honduras 0–2 Friendly
8 January 2016 Estadio Rommel Fernández, Panama City  Panama 0–4 2016 CACQ
22 March 2016 Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana  Bermuda 2–1 2017 CCQ
29 March 2016 Stade Municipal Dr. Edmard Lama, Remire-Montjoly  French Guiana 0–3 2017 CCQ
7 October 2016 Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana  United States 0–2 Friendly
22 March 2018 Nicaragua National Football Stadium, Managua  Nicaragua 1–3 Friendly
25 March 2018 Nicaragua National Football Stadium, Managua  Nicaragua 3–3 Friendly
15 August 2018 Estadio Doroteo Guamuch Flores, Guatemala City  Guatemala 0–3 Friendly
18 August 2018 Estadio Mario Camposeco, Quetzaltenango  Guatemala 0–1 Friendly
26 August 2018 Wildey Astro Turf, Bridgetown  Barbados 0–0 Friendly
29 August 2018 Wildey Astro Turf, Bridgetown  Barbados 2–0 Friendly
8 September 2018 Estadio Pedro Marrero, Havana  Turks and Caicos Islands 2019–20 CNLQ
12 October 2018  Grenada 2019–20 CNLQ
17 November 2018  Dominican Republic 2019–20 CNLQ
24 March 2019  Haiti 2019–20 CNLQ



  1. Rainsford, Sarah (2012-06-28). "BBC News – Euro 2012 football fever hits baseball-loving Cuba". Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  2. "Cuba – List of International Matches". Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  3. "Baseball in Their Veins, but a New Ball at Their Feet". Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  4. 1 2 "History of the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition (by year)" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  5. "Cuba's Yosniel Mesa defects". ESPN. Associated Press. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  6. "Keilen García, el premio-castigo de la libertad". ESPN Deportes. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
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