By Drew Olsen (@drewjolsen)
|Group||Ave ELO||Ave FIFA|
With no disrespect, Haiti falls into the “just happy to be there” category of teams in the 2015 Gold Cup. Having only five appearances previously, they have fewer than any other team in this year's tournament. Placed into the “group of death” alongside Honduras, Panama, and the United States, a result in any game will be difficult, and replicating the three points they earned in 2013 will be a challenge.
|13-Jul||7:00PM||Kansas City||Sporting Park||HAI||HON|
How did they get here?
“Les Grenadiers” (best team nickname in the tournament) qualified by finishing third in the 2014 Caribbean Cup, beating Cuba 2-1 in the third place game in November for their second straight bronze in that tournament. The biggest standout player for Haiti was 26 year old striker Kervens Belfort, who won the golden boot. Playing in France's 3rd division, there isn't much known about Belfort, but opposing teams will likely be focusing on him as a likely source of Haiti's goals.
|Country||Avg Age||Avg Caps||ELOrank||FIFArank|
What group are they in?
They are in Group A, along with Panama, the United States and Honduras. The winner of the group will play the Group B/C third place team, the runner-up will play the Group B winner and third place will be weighted against other third place teams for the chance to play the Group C winner.
How are they ranked?
Haiti is ranked 97th in ELO ratings and 76th in the FIFA World Rankings, not the worst in this year's tourney (Cuba is ranked 118th and 107th, respectively), but well behind all the the other teams in Group A.
Who are they coached by?
They're headed by manager Marc Collat, former head of Paris Saint-Germain's Youth Academy, who took over the team at the beginning of 2014. Results have been mixed for Collat, who will be looking for a solid performance from his team to solidify his job security. With a record of 3-2-5 since taking over as coach, his seat is getting a little warm. The best performance so far under Collat was likely a 0-1 friendly defeat to Chile. Though they lost, holding their own against a CONMEBOL contender was an impressive showing. Their worst outing came in a disappointing 0-0 draw against 152nd ranked St. Kitts & Nevis in Caribbean Cup qualifying.
|Stewart Ceus||GK||Atlanta Silverbacks||USA||28||7|
|Johny Placide||GK||Stade Reims||France||26||16|
|Jaafson Orgine||GK||Don Bosco FC||Haiti||23||0|
|Bitielo Jean Jacques||D||Kraze United||USA||24||4|
|Mechack Jérôme||D||Charlotte Independence||USA||25||40|
|Jean Jacques Pierre||D||Angers||France||34||62|
|Kevin Lafrance||D||Miedź Legnica||Poland||25||16|
|Jean Sony Alcenat||M||Steaua București||Romania||29||56|
|Jean-Marc Alexandre||M||Negeri Sembilan||Malaysia||28||29|
|Wilde-Donald Guerrier||M||Wisła Kraków||Poland||26||26|
|Jeff Louis||M||Standard Liège||Belgium||22||20|
|James Marcelin||M||Fort Lauderdale Strikers||USA||29||25|
|Pascal Millien||M||Jacksonville Armada||USA||29||22|
|Soni Mustivar||M||Sporting Kansas City||USA||25||6|
|Sony Norde||M||Mohun Bagan||India||25||18|
|Sebastien Thuriere||M||Charleston Battery||USA||25||8|
|Kervens Belfort||F||Ethnikos Achna||Cyprus||23||18|
|Jean Eudes Maurice||F||Nea Salamis Famagusta||Cyprus||29||21|
Who are the important players that I should know?
Goalkeeper Johny Placide (GK) is the captain, despite only 16 caps with the national team. Wielding dual-citizenship, he committed to Haiti in 2011 after playing as a youth for France's U21s.
Jean Sony Alcenat (MID) is one of the most capped players in Haitian history, with 56 appearances for his country. He will marshal the midfield and control the ball through the middle.
Wilde-Donald Guerrier (MID) plays in the Polish first division, has scored in Haiti's last two games from his attacking midfield position. If Haiti get any goals in this tournament, they're likely to come through him.
Duckens Nazon (FWD) only has four caps and is the youngest player on the squad at only 21, but will attempt to make a difference as a “super-sub” off the bench when Haiti need goals.
Barring injury or suspension for Placide, every player that will see minutes plies his trade outside of the nation he represents, the only team that is true of in the tourney. Indeed, four continents are represented, with players from clubs ranging from Charlotte to Cyprus. It is a balanced roster with some veterans of 50+ national team caps, and some young contributors that will be looking to get noticed by some bigger teams' scouts.
What have they done in the past?
2013: Did not make it out of group play (3 pts, beat Trinidad & Tobago)
2011: Did not qualify
2009: Quarter-finals (lost 4-0 to Mexico)
2007: Did not make it out of group play (2 pts, tied Costa Rica and Guateloupe)
What do we expect from them this go around?
Due to the tough draw into Group A, Haiti's best hope for a result will be against Honduras, but even that won't be easy. Putting a solid game in against Honduras and not being embarrassed by the USA or Panama is probably the best they can hope for. Anything beyond that will be a surprise. There may be upsets in this tournament, but don't count on Haiti accounting for any of them.