HOUSTON — Canada was favored to push through to the Concacaf Gold Cup semifinals, but Haiti rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn a 3-2 win during a dream match for Haitian players.
Haiti celebrated a historic effort Saturday night, earning the country’s first Gold Cup semifinal bid.
“The two teams came out there and just fought it out for 90 minutes and it was an incredible feeling, it was just incredible,” Haiti defender Andrew Jean Baptiste said while high-fiving some of his teammates.
Canada seemed poised to live up to expectations by taking control of the match early.
In the 18th minute, Canadian forward Jonathan David scored quickly, catching the Haitian team off guard. The Canadian forward did not celebrate the score – he comes from Haitian roots and wanted to show respect.
Ten minutes later, Canadian midfielder Scott Artfield delivered a perfect pass to forward Lucas Cavallini, who essentially walked the goal into the Haitian net.
Canada held a comfortable 2-0 lead at halftime.
It wasn’t the first time Haiti face a deficit and the team has mastered rallying to erase them.
The Canadian defense broke down and Haiti was able to capitalize, scoring its first goal thanks to the attacking forward Duckens Nazon.
In the 70th, Canadian defender Marcus Godinho committed a foul inside the box and a penalty was called in favor of the Haitian team. Herve Bazile converted the PK and leveled the match 2-2 – giving life to the Caribbean team.
Just five minutes later, forward Wilde-Donald Guerrier perfectly handled the ball and blasted it into the net while falling to the pitch celebrating the 3-2 lead.
For Canada, it was obviously a heart-breaking loss after starting the second half ahead by two goals and losing control of the game. Canadian coach John Herdsman was not shy while discussing what went wrong,
“At the end, we have what it took, we just didn’t have enough. [We’ve] got all the talent there, but at the end of the day, they had a very good strategy and [were] very direct. They made it difficult for us,” Herdman said.
After noting the mistakes, Herdman also highlighted what the Canadian teams did right during the Gold Cup.
“I think we showed at times our attacking powers,” he said. “I think what we were able to show team spirit and collectiveness in games and across the tournament in plays and they are committed to taking this country forward and they are devastated absolutely devastated.”
Haiti’s win marks the first time a Caribbean team has made it the Gold Cup semi-finals. The Haitians are eager to join the U.S., Mexico and Canada as the only teams to ever win the Cup.
“We know anything is possible, so every game and every time we step on the field, we have an opportunity to win and we have been able to do that and the guys have been working hard,” said Haitian midfielder Zachary Herivaux. “The country has been pushing for us and it has been amazing run for us.”