HARRISON, N.J. -- A recent 2-2 draw with World Cup powerhouse Italy after a 2-1 defeat to the defending World Cup champions Spain has earned Haiti a level of respect at the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The Haitians begin their campaign against Honduras at Red Bull Arena on Monday with the hopes of a nation still rejoicing about their team's accomplishments. But these warriors remain surprisingly humble.
Head coach Israel Blake Cantero brought everyone back to earth by saying that while he was pleased with the recent play of his team, the results came in international friendly games.
“Haiti is definitely a stronger team now but those matches were friendlies, and now we are in a major tournament and we want to do well and focus on making it to the next round,” Cantero said during a press conference at the stadium on Sunday.
They might have been friendlies on paper, but on the field the Haitians showed a kind of resolve rarely seen when football minnows face a more powerful and respected opponent.
“I am proud of these players, they play a complete 90 minutes of football and remain positive throughout, a coach could not want a better bunch of guys," Cantero said. "The Haitian federation has supported the team very well and we are all in agreement about development and where we want Haitian football to be.
“This tournament and other tournaments we feel would be a very good time for us to give Haiti some good news and move in a different direction."