Cornelius Stewart's Goals Send SVG To Cusp Of League A Promotion

Cornelius Stewart, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Back in September, we picked Gleofilo Vlijter as the standout performer from the first set of Concacaf Nations League games. The Suriname striker scored six goals in two wins, including four goals in a 6-0 triumph over Nicaragua. The 20-year-old added two more goals to his tally in October, taking his competition leading total to eight goals from four games.

However, Vlijter was upstaged this time around by a player in his own group, a player who played against Vlijter twice. Cornelius Stewart scored three goals for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who picked up four points against Suriname to move to the top of Group D in League B, the coveted spot which earns a promotion to League A for the next edition of the tournament.

Vlijter and Suriname seemed to be cruising back on October 11, when the striker scored goals on either side of the half away from home for Dean Gorré's side. However, five minutes after Vlijter's second goal, Stewart produced his first goal of the competition, a tidy low strike that crept into the goal at the far post to give Vincy Heat hope of getting something from the game.

However, it wasn't until the fifth minute of stoppage time before SVG got their equalizer. A penalty was awarded late in stoppage time, as Suriname keeper Claidel Kohinor wildly bundled over Stewart near the edge of the box. Kohinor guessed correctly on the penalty, diving to his left, but the forward's spot-kick had even juice to squeeze into the corner, handing SVG a valuable point from a losing position.



A draw at home wasn't exactly what Saint Vincent and the Grenadines needed to chase down Suriname, but Vincy Heat used the result as momentum when, three days later, SVG went to Paramaribo, Suriname, and grabbed a 1-0 victory to claim the top spot in the group with eight points, compared to the seven points both Suriname and Nicaragua currently have. 

The win wasn't quite as dramatic as the draw was, but Stewart once again provided the crucial goal. From a quick restart deep in the Suriname half in the 67th minute, Stewart collected the ball, faced towards goal, and then beat Kohinor through the five-hole for the game's only goal. It took a couple of excellent saves from Dwaine Sandy on Vlijter to preserve the win, but the result put SVG in the driver's seat for the final two games during November's international window. 



A special shoutout should also go to José Juan Macías, Mexico's young striker who scored three goals in two games to give himself standing in the set-up for El Tri. JJ got the start on the road against Bermuda and produced two goals in a 5-1 win for Mexico. Gerardo Martino kept him as a substitute for the home game against Panama on October 15, which was tied 1-1 when the 20-year-old JJ entered the game. All Macías managed to do from there was score the game-winning goal in the 75th minute, in what turned out to be a 3-1 triumph for Mexico. 

Raul Jimenez is probably Tata's best option right now at striker, with Javier Hernandez still lurking around, even though he's already 31 years old. But there is a void to be filled by someone for the third or even second striker role for El Tri. And with his performances and goal-scoring output, JJ Macías has surely down plenty to keep earning call ups for Mexico. 

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