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Five players from the Cuban men’s national soccer team defected either before or after their Nations League match against Canada on Saturday, reports say.
Cuban defender Alejandro Portal, midfielder Andy Baquero and forward Yordan Santa Cruz were missing from the team after their 6-0 loss to Canada on Sunday, according to El Nuevo Herald.
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Forward David Urgelles and Orlendiz Benitez reportedly left the squad before Saturday’s game.
Canada forward Junior Hoilett (10) and Cuba midfielder Alejandro Portal (8) battle for the ball during the second half of a CONCACAF Nations League soccer match in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)
Portal, Baquero and Santa Cruz all played against Canada on Saturday. Baquero and Santa Cruz were part of the 2013 Cuban U-20 World Cup team, according to MLSSoccer.com.
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At least 44 players have defected from Cuba over the past 17 years. Four players defected during the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup.