The Barrett brothers celebrated making Rugby World Cup history by scoring a try apiece as ruthless holders New Zealand hammered Canada 63-0 at Oita Stadium on Wednesday.

Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Scott Barrett became the first siblings to play in the same All Blacks side in a World Cup and they all made their mark in a nine-try drubbing.

All three brothers touched down along with Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Shannon Frizell and Brad Weber (two) after New Zealand were awarded an early penalty try.

Five of the tries came in a spell of 16 second-half minutes as Steve Hansen's side ran riot to go second in Pool B behind Italy, after starting their quest to win the Web Ellis Cup for an unprecedented third consecutive time with a win over South Africa.

The outstanding Richie Mo'unga scored 16 points with the boot - nailing all eight conversions - and Ardie Savea became the first player to wear goggles in a World Cup match but whipped them off soon after coming on.

New Zealand made an ominous start with huge backing from an expectant crowd and Romain Poite awarded a penalty try with only four minutes gone, Gordon McRorie punished for trying to steal a ball while a scrum drove Canada beyond their own line.

Jordie Barrett took a crossfield kick from Mo'unga to add a second try and Williams stepped inside and ploughed over for another before turning provider for Beauden Barrett with a clever kick.

The humidity made the ball tricky to handle in the first half, but New Zealand shifted through the gears after the break to put on a show with conditions easing.

Williams darted between a couple of defenders before setting up a simple finish for Ioane and Scott Barrett rounded off a slick move after fumbling as he went to touch down in the first half.

Frizell went over following an initial break from Ioane and New Zealand had four tries in the first 10 minutes of the second half when the rapid Beauden Barrett sprinted 60 metres to lay on a first Test try for Weber.

Mo'unga started that move with a brilliant take and offload, and the magnificent fly-half slipped in Weber for a double before maintaining his 100 per cent record from the tee.

Beauden Barrett missed out on a brace when he dropped the ball running clear right at the end, but that would have been no consolation for battered Canada.

 

Mo'unga magic makes Canada suffer

Mo'unga showed New Zealand's strength in depth with a brilliant performance at number 10, showing great vision and skill with ball in hand and producing a flawless display with the boot.

Full-back masterclass from brilliant Beauden

Beauden Barrett showed his class at full-back with a superb all-round display, taking high balls, charging through the Canada defence with a sharp turn of foot and also performing his defensive duties magnificently - the highlight being a great saving tackle to deny Peter Nelson a first-half try.

Key Opta Facts:

- New Zealand have won each of their six Tests against Canada, with their last five victories in that run coming by margins of 50-plus points.
- The All Blacks have won each of their last 16 Rugby World Cup matches, the longest run by any side in the tournament's history, while they also boast a 100 per cent win rate in pool stage matches at the World Cup (30/30).
- This is the 32nd time that a match has been won by 60-plus points at the Rugby World Cup, New Zealand have been the winning side in 13 of those matches, over twice as many as any other side (England, Australia both five). 
- All three Barrett brothers scored a try in the same game for New Zealand for the first time; Beauden and Jordie Barrett had crossed the try line in the same game once before (v Italy in November 2018).
- Sonny Bill Williams and Sam Whitelock have each won their last 16 Rugby World Cup games, equaling Keven Mealamu for the all-time record of consecutive wins at the tournament.

What's next?

The holders will be expected to rack up another big score against Namibia on Sunday, while Canada will be in for another daunting encounter with the Springboks two days later.

Steve Hansen is hopeful Beauden Barrett's performance levels will improve even further playing alongside his brothers in New Zealand's next pool match at the Rugby World Cup.

The All Blacks began their campaign with victory over South Africa, in the process taking a huge early step towards the knockout stages of the tournament.

Their next outing is against Canada; while it is expected to be a more straightforward affair, Hansen has still named a strong New Zealand side.

Included in the XV are brothers Beauden, Jordie and Scott Barrett, becoming just the second trio of siblings to start together in a World Cup match - after Tonga's Vunipola brothers in 2015.

Beauden Barrett is a two-time World Rugby Player of the Year and starred against the Springboks, playing at full-back rather than his usual position of fly-half.

Yet Hansen is optimistic the 28-year-old will be inspired to produce an even more impressive display in familiar company.

"We know he's got all the skills in the world but he's in a hurry, you know," Hansen said. "He's got two brothers who are ahead of him.

"If you're in a contest with your siblings, you're always in a hurry - because you want to prove to not only yourself but your two siblings and everybody else that you're better than they are."

Hansen is also excited to see Jordie Barrett out on the field against Canada, although he acknowledges there are areas of the 22-year-old's game that still need honing.

"He's a very confident young man is our Jordie - and he has every right to be confident," the coach said. "He's a very skilled player.

"It's not his confidence that we need to get right, it's just his understanding and his pace of how he wants to play. He wants to do it at 100 miles an hour.

"We've talked about that before in the media and he's making good progress, so we're pretty excited by where he's going to end up one day."

Were Canada to get any sort of result against the All Blacks, it would go down as one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history.

But Hansen admitted he had enjoyed taking in another shock result at the weekend when Japan defeated Ireland, who are seen by many as one of the major rivals for New Zealand's crown.

"You wouldn't get a better game of rugby. I thought [Japan] were outstanding in their performance," Hansen said.

"And their speed of ball was great, their line speed was awesome, they just kept coming, didn't they? Time after time after time and showed a lot of courage, a lot of intent, and a lot of skills.

"So hats off to them, it was a really great performance and one that the whole of Japan should be proud of."


PLAYERS TO WATCH

New Zealand - Beauden Barrett

Barrett is a joy to watch at the best of times given his outstanding speed, but the opportunity to take on inferior opponents like Canada should see him really make hay. If the makeshift full-back lifts his level even further as Hansen suggests, the Canucks could be in real trouble.

Canada - Conor Trainor

This match comes eight years to the day since the sides' previous World Cup meeting, in which Trainor also played. In fact, not only did he play but he also scored - twice. Trainor is the only player to have tallied a pair of tries against the All Blacks in the World Cup in the 21st century. A repeat would make for some story.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- New Zealand have won each of their previous five Tests against Canada, with their most recent four victories in that run coming by 50 points or more.
- The All Blacks have won each of their last 15 Rugby World Cup matches, the longest run by any side in the tournament's history.
- They also boast a 100 per cent win rate in pool stage matches at the World Cup (29/29).
- New Zealand have scored at least one try in each of their past 27 World Cup matches, a record for any nation in the tournament, last failing to do so against South Africa in 1999.
- Canada are winless in their past eight World Cup matches. Prior to this run, they had never gone more than four matches without victory in the tournament.

Beauden, Scott and Jordie Barrett will become the first trio of brothers to start for New Zealand when the All Blacks face Canada at the Rugby World Cup.

Wednesday's Pool B fixture against Canada at Oita Stadium will see the Barrett siblings become just the second trio of brothers to start in a World Cup match after the Tongan Vunipola brothers in 1995.

All Blacks star Beauden Barrett and brother Scott retain their places in the XV following the world champions' opening victory over South Africa, with head coach Steve Hansen making 11 changes.

New Zealand veteran Sonny Bill Williams is handed his first start of the showpiece tournament, along with Rieko Ioane, while TJ Perenara also slots into the line-up.

"Our aim is to win the next two Pool matches against Canada and Namibia, as well as continuing to grow our game and manage the workload across the group. With two games four days apart, it's obvious that we need to use our whole squad," Hansen said.

"Whilst there's a huge amount of energy and excitement amongst the whole team about what lies ahead, this week there has been a real focus on ourselves and our own standards.

"We've been working hard. We know we have to keep growing our game. We've always been demanding of ourselves when it comes to continued improvement, and that will never change. By doing so, it allows us to have the right attitude, intent and execution.

"When it comes to our preparation, it should never be about who we are playing, but how we are preparing individually and as a team, both mentally and physically. By doing this, it means you always respect your opponent and the jersey."

 

New Zealand: Beauden Barrett, Jordie Barrett, Jack Goodhue, Sonny Bill Williams, Rieko Ioane, Richie Mo'unga, TJ Perenara; Atu Moli, Liam Coltman, Angus Ta'avao, Patrick Tuipulotu, Scott Barrett, Shane Frizell, Matt Todd, Kieran Read.
Replacements: Codie Taylor, Ofa Tuungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Samuel Whitelock, Ardie Savea, Brad Weber, Ryan Crotty, Ben Smith.

Italy will enjoy what Conor O'Shea termed "an old-school night" after cruising past Canada to make it two Rugby World Cup wins from two.

The Azzurri followed up their 47-22 bonus-point victory over Namibia by routing Canada by an even bigger margin, running in seven tries in a 48-7 success in Fukuoka.

Braam Steyn and Dean Budd went over in the first half and further scores from Sebastian Negri, Mattia Bellini, Federico Zani and Matteo Minozzi - along with a penalty try - ensured Italy had no issues against an opponent that had come close to upsetting them in two previous World Cup games.

O'Shea's team now have an eight-day break before facing South Africa in a contest that will likely determine whether they make the quarter-finals or not, and the coach said his players have earned the right to let off some steam.

"I promised the guys a bit of an old-school night earlier in the week," O'Shea said.

"A four-day turnaround is tough, mentally as well as physically, so the whole squad have reacted brilliantly. We're looking forward to tonight, and then we'll start looking ahead tomorrow morning to the next challenge.

"The boys will probably go longer than I will but they need to release the energy.

"One of the mental challenges when you play [is] emotionally, at this level. A lot of players are making their first matches at this level in a World Cup. It's just to release the energy.

"We've got eight days now so we can enjoy ourselves tonight and then look forward to South Africa from tomorrow."

Canada were playing their first match six days after the tournament started but could not live with Italy, having been beaten by slender five-point margins in their two previous World Cup games against them.

Andrew Coe's fine late try at least ensured they avoid the ignominy of failing to get on the board.

"I don't think anybody had anything left in the tank when that 80 minutes was up," Canada captain Tyler Ardron said.

"We gave it everything we could. All credit to Italy - they exposed us when they had their chances and we didn't finish them off when we had ours."

Italy crushed Canada with a 48-7 victory in Fukuoka as they maintained their unbeaten Rugby World Cup start ahead of a potentially pivotal clash with South Africa.

The Azzurri had only beaten Canada by five-point margins in each of their previous two World Cup encounters, but this victory was far more emphatic as second-rowers Braam Steyn and Dean Budd touched down in the first half.

Further tries from Sebastian Negri, Mattia Bellini, Federico Zani and Matteo Minozzi - along with a penalty try - gave Italy the bonus-point success as Conor O'Shea's side followed up their 47-22 win over Namibia with another impressive display.

Andrew Coe's score gave Canada a consolation, but Italy dominated ahead of clashes against heavyweights South Africa and New Zealand in their final two Pool A games, with only two teams qualifying for the last eight.

Italy's strength in depth will be tested when they face Canada in the Rugby World Cup on Thursday, as the Azzurri look to start the tournament with back-to-back wins.

The Azzurri won their Pool B opener against Namibia 47-22 on Sunday. Despite Italy winning their first game at a tournament for the first time since 1991, Conor O'Shea was far from satisfied with the performance his side produced.

Only five players who started that match remain in the XV to face Canada, whose victory against Tonga in 2011 is their only win in the last three World Cup campaigns.

Skipper Sergio Parisse is among those rested, with lock Dean Budd captaining the team in his stead. Italy's other lock, David Sisi, is set to become the first German-born player to feature at a World Cup.

"Dean has twice captained the team," O'Shea said.

"Sergio wanted to play and that is the same for all the players. Two matches in four days meant we had to use all our squad. He would be ready to play and was magnificent for us against Namibia but I want him at 100 per cent for every match.

"I have confidence in all our players and all our players are worth a place in the team. This is the best team for the match."

Canada's preparations for their opening game of the competition have been hit by the news of lower body injuries to wing Taylor Paris and flanker Evan Olmstead.

They will both miss the clash in Fukuoka, but head coach Kingsley Jones is hopeful they will not be on the sideline for long.

"Nothing that's going to keep them out long term but they're not quite ready for this one," he said. "Overall we're pleased with the combinations we have."

Little will be expected of Canada in a match Italy likely must win to have any hope of progressing ahead of South Africa, though history suggests this will be a tight encounter, with the Azzurri having won the previous two World Cup meetings between the sides by a margin of just five points.


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Italy - Jake Polledri

Polledri earns a starting berth in the back row after an outstanding performance against Namibia. Despite coming off the bench, only four players gained more metres than his 45. He beat more defenders than anyone else (6) and also scored a try.

Canada - DTH van der Merwe 

Experienced wing Van der Merwe scored a try in each of Canada's four pool stage matches in 2015. Should he cross against Italy, he will join Jonah Lomu and Alan Whetton as just the third player to score a try in five consecutive World Cup matches.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- Canada won two of their first three Tests against Italy from 1983 to 2000; however, they have gone on to lose all six of their encounters since, of which four have been decided by single-figure margins. 

- Italy have won 11 of their previous 13 Rugby World Cup matches against Tier 2 opposition (L2) including their last nine on the bounce; they have not lost such a fixture since going down by three points against Tonga in the 1999 edition (28-25)

- Canada come into this competition on the back of a five-game losing streak in Test rugby; the last time they endured a longer streak of defeats was a seven-game stretch from November 2014 to August 2015. 

- Only England's Owen Farrell has scored more points (106 – 1 try, 28 conversions, 15 penalties) than Italy's Tommaso Alan (66 – 3 tries, 15 con, 7 pen) amongst Tier 1 players in 2019.

It may not prove to be the case in the long run, but New Zealand feel a little vulnerable going into the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Having failed to win this year's shortened version of the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks are no longer the top-ranked side prior to the tournament in Japan.

Admittedly, they have not suffered a World Cup defeat since 2007, when they were stunned by France in a quarter-final in Cardiff. Their pedigree, plus their strength in depth, means Steve Hansen's side deserve to be considered the favourites.

Still, there is a glimmer of hope for the rest of the rugby heavyweights. The question is: who is best placed to dethrone the champions? 

 

1. SOUTH AFRICA

Could the Springboks be peaking at just the right time? They won the Rugby Championship for the fourth time this year and, after a shocking start against Japan, came as close as any nation to ending New Zealand's march towards a second straight World Cup in 2015. An early crack at the All Blacks in their Pool B opener will give them the chance to land a potentially telling blow. Also, the Boks ruled the world in 1995 and 2007. Now, 12 years on from their previous success, will the trend be repeated? They deserve to be viewed as the main contenders to the defending champions.

2. ENGLAND

It cannot possibly go any worse than four years ago, right? Eddie Jones – who was in charge of the Japan team that upset the Boks in Brighton in 2015 – is at the helm and the schedule has aided their campaign, as they have Tonga and the United States in their opening two fixtures in Pool C, giving them a chance to iron out any issues before they round out the stage by facing Argentina and France. The talismanic Owen Farrell is the key – and not just because of his outstanding kicking off the tee.

3. WALES

Warren Gatland could finish his spell in charge by doing a Six Nations Grand Slam and World Cup double. The Kiwi reached the semi-finals in 2011 and then the quarters four years ago. The reason they are not rated higher, however, is the list of absentees. Flanker Taulupe Faletau and fly-half Gareth Anscombe are missing due to injuries, scrum-half Rhys Webb is unavailable due to selection rules and attack coach Rob Howley has returned home over an alleged betting breach.

4. IRELAND

Like several of his counterparts, Joe Schmidt's tenure comes to an end with the World Cup. His final Six Nations did not go quite to plan, but Ireland top the world rankings, defeated New Zealand less than a year ago (in a game where the mighty All Blacks failed to score a try) and have plenty of experience in their squad. Much will depend on the form and fitness of fly-half Johnny Sexton - can he help the team recapture the form they displayed in 2018? While Pool A looks to be plain sailing, they face the prospect of New Zealand or South Africa in the last eight.

5. AUSTRALIA

The beaten finalists from four years ago will be relying on experience to go one better than 2015. Michael Cheika has often seemed on the brink as their head coach, but he raised hopes by beating New Zealand 47-26 in Perth in August. Still, they lost the rematch 36-0 on the road and are minus their leading strike weapon in Israel Folau, who is locked in a legal dispute with the Australia Rugby Union following his sacking for comments on social media. Without him, they will be more workmanlike than eye-catching in attack. 

6. SCOTLAND

Scotland are in a pool that, apart from Ireland, looks softer than some of the alternative options. They will not take hosts Japan for granted in their final round-robin fixture and, if they do progress, will have to cause an upset against either New Zealand or South Africa in the next round. Gregor Townsend has plenty of World Cup experience from his playing days, but this is his first in charge of the national team - expect the Scots to be in some highly entertaining contests but the last four looks a long shot.

7. ARGENTINA

Los Pumas languish outside the top 10 in the rankings but have made the semi-finals at two of the last three World Cups. The reason they are listed so low here, though, is their group. Only two can progress and having been drawn alongside England and France, Argentina face a challenge to make the quarters. Mario Ledesma's squad is dominated by players from Jaguares, who reached the Super Rugby final for the first time this year, but will lean on the Stade Francais' Nicolas Sanchez to provide control.

8. FRANCE

There was a time when France were the team you wanted to avoid in the knockout stages (just ask New Zealand 12 years ago, while they only won the 2011 final 8-7 against Les Bleus). Yet this current bunch are not living up to previous versions, with a distinct lack of flair put down to a domestic game now dominated by big-name overseas recruits occupying key positions. Sure, France have turned it on for the big occasion in the past, but the 2019 squad should concentrate first on making it out of their pool.

AND THE REST...

Japan have improved since 2015. Italy? Not so much. The hosts can justifiably think a quarter-final slot is within reach, but the Azzurri look doomed in Pool B alongside the All Blacks and the Boks. Currently placed inside the world's top 10, Fiji will likely have to beat one of Australia or Wales just to make it out of their group. The other nations will hope for damage limitation against the big boys and aim to take points off each other in their remaining fixtures. 

Defending FIBA World Cup champions the United States advanced to the quarter-finals by defeating Greece, while Canada made history against Jordan.

NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo was unable to lead Greece to a shock victory over Team USA in Shenzhen, leaving them requiring a big win over the Czech Republic in their final second-round match if they are to have a chance of reaching the last eight.

Australia overcame the Dominican Republic 82-76 and France beat Lithuania 78-75 in a dramatic finale, meaning the two victors secured their progression and will battle it out for top spot in Group L on Monday.

The Czech Republic kept their hopes of reaching the last eight alive by defeating Brazil 93-71 – Chicago Bulls guard Tomas Satoransky producing a sensational all-round display with 20 points, nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.

In the classification round, there were victories for Canada, Germany, New Zealand and Turkey.

 

GIANNIS FAILS TO GET GREECE FIRING

Antetokounmpo was expected to be key to Greece's hopes of pulling off an upset against the United States and he had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

However, he was -17 in his 27 minutes on the floor – the worst +/- rating of anyone on his team – and it was while he was on the bench that Greece closed the gap to 11 points with four minutes remaining.

Kemba Walker led USA with 15 points, while Donovan Mitchell contributed 10.

 

BOOMERS STILL BOOMING

Patty Mills posted 19 points and nine assists as Australia held off the Dominican Republic for their fourth straight win.

Jock Londale impressed with 13 points on five-of-six shooting, while Chris Goulding added 15 and Aron Baynes put up 10.

Baynes fouled out with six minutes remaining in the third quarter, but replacement Andrew Bogut stepped up and provided eight points, eight rebounds and six assists.

 

FRANCE THROUGH

Nando De Colo sunk a fadeaway jump shot with 15 seconds of the match remaining to put France three points clear of Lithuania, who saw Jonas Maciulis fail to make a buzzer-beating shot from beyond the arc.

De Colo had 21 points off the bench, while Evan Fournier scored 24 in a commanding display.

Rudy Gobert said: "It was like a final for us. We knew we had to win this game in order to qualify for the quarter-finals. We know that Australia is a tough team too, but we are taking it one game at a time. We are going to get some rest and get ready for Australia."

 

HISTORY FOR CANADA

Nick Nurse's side sank 24 three-pointers in their 126-71 triumph over Jordan, the most in a single FIBA World Cup game.

Canada shot at 58.7 per cent from the floor and combined for 37 assists, equalling the record set by Serbia in their victory over the Philippines in the first round.

Former 100m world record holder Donovan Bailey has joined the throng of track and field greats who have come out against ESPN Max Kellerman who said track and field athletes are those who have failed at American football and basketball.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was in sensational form as Greece booked their place in the FIBA World Cup second round, while the United States completed a clean sweep in Group E.

Greece won a qualification shoot-out against New Zealand 103-97 to follow Brazil out of Group F, the South American side making it three straight victories by overcoming Montenegro 84-73.

After needing overtime to see off Turkey last time out, Team USA were back on song as they hammered Japan 98-45.

Australia and France booked top spot in their respective groups with wins over Lithuania and Dominican Republic, while Germany and Canada got off the mark.

 

USA BACK ON TRACK

Team USA had five players in double figures for scoring as they comfortably saw off Japan in Shanghai.

Jaylen Brown had a game-high 20 points and Kemba Walker added 15 and eight assists in a routine victory for Gregg Popovich's side.

They will face tricky encounters against Greece and Brazil in the second round.

Turkey were unable to follow the USA out of Group E, as Czech Republic advanced at their expense courtesy of a 91-76 victory in their meeting.

 

GIANNIS GETS GREECE GOING

Having struggled to make his mark in Greece's opening two matches, Antetokounmpo ensured their campaign in China was not derailed in their first-round finale.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward posted a brilliant 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals to ensure Corey Webster's 31 points for New Zealand came in vain.

Defeat for the Tall Blacks meant rivals Australia qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games as the best ranked team from Oceania.

 

HISTORY FOR AUSTRALIA

The Boomers made it three straight wins at the start of a World Cup campaign for the first time in their history with an 87-82 victory over Lithuania.

Aron Baynes contributed 21 points and 13 assists for his first double-double in the competition, while Patty Mills scored 23 off eight-of-16 shooting.

The victory ensured Australia topped Group H ahead of Lithuania, with Nick Nurse's Canada taking third following an 82-60 defeat of Senegal.

Cory Joseph was key to Canada's success, combining 24 points with three assists and two steals.

The 2019 FIBA World Cup gets under way in China on Saturday.

A total of 32 teams from four confederations will battle it out across eight host cities in the space of just over two weeks.

We take a look at five talking points ahead of what should be an enthralling competition.

 

A three-peat in the offing?

The United States have won the past two editions of the World Cup and are once again the favourites for glory. No country has ever won three straight titles.

However, Team USA are without a host of their leading NBA stars and are relying heavily on a young group.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma said: "A lot of guys back in 2010; KD [Kevin Durant], Russ [Westbrook], Kevin Love, all those guys were young. They made a name for themselves and really propelled themselves for future success in their careers."

The competition could prove beneficial to the Boston Celtics, with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Marcus Brown getting some extra time on court with new arrival Kemba Walker.

Booming Boomers

Australia enjoyed a huge boost ahead of the World Cup by beating Team USA for the first time with a 98-94 triumph at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

The experienced quartet of Aron Baynes, Matthew Dellavedova, Joe Ingles and Patty Mills will be key to their hopes of a deep run.

Mills said: "We're locked in focused on trying to create history for basketball within Australia and that's what it's all about. So, we're not satisfied, we've just got to keep working hard."

However, the Boomers lost their final warm-up match against Germany 74-64 and saw Andrew Bogut limp off in the fourth quarter.

More Nurse magic?

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA Championship, Nick Nurse took the reins for Canada.

He got off to a winning start against Nigeria and went on to record victories over Australia and New Zealand.

But Canada also lost warm-up matches with Nigeria, Australia and Team USA, showing they have plenty of work to do if they are to pull off a shock in China.

A 'Greek Freak' Show

Greece's best performance came in 2006, when they finished second to Spain in Japan.

This time, though, they have a once-in-a-generation talent in NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 assists during the 2018-19 regular season.

Antetokounmpo will be integral to Greece's hopes, though he sat out their final warm-up against Venezuela due to a knee problem.

If he is fit and firing, Antetokounmpo will undoubtedly make a mark on the competition.

Understrength Spain

It looks like it will be difficult for Spain to win the title for a second time.

Head coach Sergio Scariolo has selected an experienced team that is headlined by Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, Rudy Fernandez and Sergio Llull.

They would undoubtedly have had a better chance had Serge Ibaka and Nikola Mirotic made themselves available, while Pau Gasol is absent due to injury.

Scariolo said: "The players that you have named [Nikola Mirotic and Serge Ibaka], at least one of the two would have been picked if they had made themselves available for selection.

"Another like Pau for example, he would have killed to be with us but unfortunately he is unavailable through injury."

Despite the fact that, for the first time in the competition’s history, two Caribbean teams, Haiti and Jamaica, were in the final four of the Gold Cup, no players from those nations managed to find their way into a Best XI. 

History was made on Saturday night in Houston, with Haiti qualifying for a Concacaf Gold Cup semifinal for the first time in its history after rallying from a two-goal deficit to defeat Canada 3-2 in the quarterfinals.

It made for a very emotional post-game setting for Haiti at the final whistle.

“To be honest, I cried. I was crying and then I got jumped on. It just feels amazing, I could not be happier than this,” said Haiti MF Steeven Saba to Concacaf.com following the match.

“We were down 2-0, we hung in there just like in the group stages. In the second half, we had to put it all out there, take risks and we got what we wanted. We got the win and we could not be happier.”

The victory also set off scenes of joy and celebration back home in the streets of Haiti.

For Saba and his teammates, to deliver this win and leave a smile on the face of every Haitian is a memory they will always cherish.

“To be honest, it’s incredible. It means the world to us because I know what’s going on down there in Haiti. I got really emotional after the game because that’s how much it means to us, to the entire team,” said Saba.

Next up for Haiti is a semifinal date with seven-time Gold Cup champions with Mexico on Tuesday in Phoenix.

While Les Grenadiers greatly respect El Tricolor and all that it has accomplished in the region, Haiti will go into that contest ready to battle like always.

“We’re fighters, we’re all warriors. Coming from Haiti, we’re always fighting and we are going to keep fighting. I respect everyone in this group, I love everyone in this group, we’re all a family and we could not be happier. 

“I respect Mexico, but I’ll say that we are not afraid of anyone. We’re fighters and where we come from that’s what we do,” concluded Saba.

Haiti stunned Canada 3-2 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarter-finals in a huge upset in Houston on Saturday.

The minnows looked set for an expected defeat when they fell 2-0 behind inside 30 minutes at NRG Stadium.

Jonathan David's powerful finish and Lucas Cavallini's goal had Canada, who finished second to Mexico in Group A, on track.

But Haiti remarkably turned the game around in the second half to reach their first CONCACAF Gold Cup semi-final.

Duckens Nazon dispossessed Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan to pull a goal back before Herve Bazile converted a 70th-minute penalty.

The turnaround was complete when Wilde-Donald Guerrier got on the end of a beautiful Nazon pass to put Haiti ahead six minutes later, sealing an incredible win.

Haiti will face either Mexico or Costa Rica in the semi-finals on Tuesday.

The first of the four 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup quarterfinals will kick off when Haiti takes on Canada on Saturday evening at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. 

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