Haiti can progress to the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Gold Cup for the first time in their history when they take on Jamaica in Saturday’s quarter-final.
Marc Collat’s men earned a surprising 1-0 win over Honduras in their final group game on Monday, a result that – combined with hosts and defending champions United States’ 1-1 draw with Panama – proved to be enough for Haiti to progress to the last eight.
That win came after midfielder Jeff Louis and centre-back Jean Jacques Pierre left the squad due to disagreements with the management, but midfielder James Marcelin insists the team remains united.
“Whatever happened with the guys that left, we became more powerful because everybody wants one thing – to qualify for the next round,” Marcelin said.
“We just prayed and we’re going to work hard for the next game.
“For Haiti, the population that’s waiting for us right now, it means a lot for them. Soccer is flying the flag everywhere for Haiti.”
Jamaica’s progress to the last eight was far more straightforward as they topped Group B with seven points thanks to a draw with Costa Rica and wins over Canada and El Salvador.
But Winfried Schafer’s camp has been far from a harmonious one, with defender Alvas Powell walking out on the squad because of a lack of playing time, adding to a growing list of absentees for Jamaica.
Darren Mattocks and Je-Vaughn Watson are both suspended for the encounter at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, while defender Jermaine Taylor has been ruled out for the rest of the Gold Cup because of a quadriceps tear sustained in the 1-0 victory against El Salvador.
Goalkeeper Dwayne Miller is also a doubt due to head injury sustained in the same game, but Garath McCleary is in good spirits ahead of the match.
“As I have said before, we were massive underdogs in this group and to come out on top with seven points is no mean feat,” McCleary said.
“We go into the next game hoping to put in another good performance.”
McCleary has good reason to approach the contest with confidence. Jamaica saw off Haiti 2-0 in the Caribbean Cup in November of last year.
The pair have never met in the Gold Cup finals and, although Jamaica did record a 3-0 success in the qualifying tournament for the 2003 competition, that will count for little against a Haiti side clearly full of spirit.
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