Copa comes to America - Eastern Mirror
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Copa comes to America

By IANS Updated: Jun 03, 2016 11:41 am

Everything you need to know

Who’s playing, why USA as host, star gazing and everything you need to know.
What took almost 2 years to plan came close to getting scrapped in the aftermath of the FIFA bribery scandal. It wiped away the top leadership in Americas, leaving the fate of Copa Centenario in doubt. The tournament is back. Here’s a lowdown:

What is Copa Centenario?
Copa America started in 1916 in Argentina. This year the world’s oldest international tournament enters its centenary year and to commemorate the event, the tournament was planned. Hence, even though it is held every 4 years, it was planned this year.

Who are taking part?
Copa America is essentially a South American event where the best teams fight it out for regional supremacy. And with some of the best players turning out for their national teams, it has grabbed global attention. Normally the 12-team tournament has two guest teams but this time it is being expanded to 16 teams. Apart from 10 teams from CONMEBOL (South American Football Confederation), 6 from CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football) will also take part.

Why select USA as host?
USA and Mexico were the potential hosts but with the former having better infrastructure, marketing potential and more people with spending power, the event was handed to the USA.

Are the teams serious?
With the Olympics round the corner, there were apprehensions the top stars may skip the tournament. Brazil had to leave out Neymar because they wanted him for the Olympics. However, teams like Argentina and Uruguay are coming with their full strength squads and so are defending champions Chile, Colombia, USA and Mexico.

The format
Four teams have been clubbed into four groups each with the top two progressing to the quarters. Normally in Copa, drawn knockout matches, barring the final, would be decided on penalties. But this year there will be 30 minutes extra-time before penalty shootouts.

Star gazing
For Argentina this is yet another chance to end their Copa drought which stretches from 1993. Their seriousness stems from the fact that they are coming with the best player — Lionel Messi. Uruguay will be with Messi’s Barca teammate Luis Suarez, while Chile will have their talisman Alexis Sanchez. Barring Neymar, Brazil will have Kaka. Also in action is Wes Morgan, skipper of Premier League winners Leicester, who will play for Jamaica.

By IANS Updated: Jun 03, 2016 11:41:03 am