If Haiti winning its group is surprise 1A of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, then Curaçao going through to the quarterfinals is certainly 1B.
The Caribbean island gave itself a chance to reach the knockout stage in dramatic fashion Tuesday night and then watched as the scenario it required unfolded, securing its first place in the elimination rounds of the competition.
Jurien Gaari's stoppage-time stunner vs. Jamaica gave Curaçao hope. With his nation trailing Jamaica 1-0 and needing a point, Gaari thumped home a first-time hit from 25 yards, a screamer that set off celebrations and salvaged a 1-1 draw. Combined with its earlier win over Honduras and loss to El Salvador, it gave Curaçao four points and a goal differential of zero.
Honduras's later 4-0 thrashing of El Salvador sent Curaçao through on goal differential, with Los Catrachos playing spoiler to their border rival and allowing the underdog story of the competition to continue. Haiti, at least, had made a knockout stage multiple times before. But for Curaçao, this is uncharted territory. The 79th-ranked team in the world in FIFA's most recent ranking (interestingly enough, Haiti is 101), Curaçao features some intriguing names. Cardiff City's Leandro Bacuna is chief among them, while the side also features a number of players who play in the Netherlands. Feyenoord defender Cuco Martina captains the side.
Next up for Curaçao is either the USA or Panama, with the winner of Wednesday night's showdown topping Group D and drawing the upstart side in the quarterfinals. The loser (or in the case of a draw, Panama), would get Group C winner Jamaica, which has reached the last two Gold Cup finals and beat the U.S. in a pre-Gold Cup friendly earlier this month.