by Muhammad Al-Kahlout – The New York Cosmos made a historic trip to Cuba to play the country’s national team and World Soccer Shop was invited along to take in the once-in-a-lifetime experience. The beautiful game has a way of transcending borders but who would have thought this would happen even a few short years ago.
The visitors opened up a 4-0 halftime lead with a brace from forward Lucky Mksona along with goals from Sebastian Guenzatti and Hagop Chirishian and held on for a 4-1 victory after Andy Vaquero pulled one back for the Leones del Caribe (Lions of the Caribbean) at Pedro Marrero Stadium.
But the experience started as soon as we stepped on the team charter the day before the match.
Day 1 Recap:
We were invited to attend the New York Cosmos training session that morning at the Estadio Pedro Marrero where the match would be held.
Later on, we watched Cuba’s National Team run through drills a day ahead of the match.
We attended a youth clinic lead by the NY Cosmos. They ran drills with the kids teaching them the beautiful game is not only about hard work but also about having fun. The kids took that advice to heart.
We were then invited to the event press conference at the Meliá Cohiba Hotel. The conference was lead by Fernando Fiore where we heard from the coaches of the respective teams as well as the president of the Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba Luis Hernandez about the significance of the match as well as the long term impact and growth of the game on both countries.
“In this new era that our two countries are living, this game is another link that will help establish the relations announced by the two presidents,” said Antonio Garces, vice president of the Asociación de Fútbol de Cuba.
Next, Pelé and Raul spoke about the event and were later joined by Cuban captain Yénier Márquez spoke about what the game meant to them and the long reaching implications of this match.
“It makes me happy that once again football is helping with peace between United States and Cuba” said Pelé.
Pelé brought their hands together signifying a stronger future and a better tomorrow for the two countries brought together by the power of soccer.
Day 2 Recap:
We headed over to the Estadio Pedro Marrero to get our seats before the match. The passion and love for the game of soccer was spectacular.
Cuban fans cheered after both anthems and of course after every goal scored during the match. Clearly both sides were moved by this historic match and was truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Needless to say, there was no shortage of Raul fans in attendance!
We want to extend our deepest gratitude for the New York Cosmos’ invitation. We truly enjoyed it and we look forward to a bright future between Cuba and the USA brought together by soccer.
More Images from our time in Cuba.