French Guiana has - perhaps unwittingly - enlivened the build-up to the opening game of the 2017 Gold Cup by including Florent Malouda in its 23-man squad for the tournament. The 37-year-old, former Chelsea and Lyon player is comfortably the highest-profile name on Les Yana Dokos' roster, but he is also, unfortunately, ineligible to play in Gold Cup - per Brian Straus' reporting for Sports Illustrated.
Malouda might be the most famous and accomplished player in French Guiana's squad, but the roster includes several other (younger) pros with experience in the French leagues, and it is there collective contribution that is more likely to drive the team in this competition. As such, frustrating as it must be for the team to bench its biggest star, no great surprise that the decision was made to keep Malouda (and a couple of other lower-profile ineligible players) out of the lineup for this game.
Florent Malouda does *not* start for French Guiana, which has three ineligible players on its roster (marked "A") #GUF #CAN #GoldCup2017 pic.twitter.com/EsQdFJDltw— Jonathan Tannenwald (@thegoalkeeper) July 7, 2017
Canada is the favorite in this match, not least because of French Guiana's roster issues. But the team's performances in recent Gold Cups have been lackluster:it hasn't made it out of the group stage for the last three tournaments. A weakened French Guiana should be sufficient for Canada to at least kick off this competition with a win, though the Caribbean qualifiers will hope to expose the Canadians' signature fragility in this tournament.