• Wednesday Dec 12, 2012

    Haiti beats Antigua; qualifies for Gold Cup

    ST. JOHN'S, Antigua - A costly 1-0 defeat at the hands of Haiti on Tuesday sent host Antigua and Barbuda crashing out of the 2012 Caribbean Cup finals. It was the second disappointment recently for the tournament host, which only a few short months ago missed out on a place in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for Brazil 2014.

    The result means that Haiti wins Group A with seven points, three ahead of runner-up Trinidad & Tobago. Both sides earned berths at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, plus advanced to the Caribbean semifinals.

    The Haitians started the game in a more aggressive posture, even though it needed only a draw to progress. They seemed to relish playing in front of their opponent's home supporters and stuck to a well-conceived game plan.

    Antigua had precious few true scoring chances, as dangerous forward Peter Byers - who scored 10 goals in 12 World Cup qualifiers - received little service.

    The game for all intents and purposes ended in the 19th minute, when an ambitious attempt off the foot of Haiti's Leonel St. Preux was partially saved by goalkeeper Molvin James. The ball landed in front of Jean-Philippe Peguero and he made no mistake to put the 2007 Caribbean champion ahead with his second goal of the finals.

    Antigua tried its best to find the equalizer before the half, but the combination of Byers, Gason Gregory and Quinton Griffith could not get the open look that they needed.

    The Trinidadian players, who beat the Dominican Republic 2-1 in the evening's opener, stayed to watch the game, knowing that their tournament existence was at stake. A draw would have eliminated the Soca Warriors, since they would have then been even on four points with Antigua, but would have been eliminated due to a Sunday loss to the Benna Boys.

    The second half saw Haiti remain on the attack and they even had two goals called back for offside.

    Antigua were kept on their heels and had difficulty breaking down the Haitian duo of Meschack Jerome and Jean Monuma Constant, both of whom executed tackles in expert fashion.

    Haiti, which will be making its fifth Gold Cup appearance, is scheduled to face the Group B runner-up Friday in the semifinals. Trinidad & Tobago has not played in a Gold Cup since 2007 and will meet the Group B winner in the knockout round.

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