Haiti's Jeff Louis (blue jersey) in Copa America Centenario action against Brazil on June 8, 2016, in Orlando, Florida, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)
ORLANDO, Florida -- After being eliminated from Copa America Centenario contention after a 7-1 loss to Brazil on Wednesday, Haiti head coach Patrice Neveu says preparing his team for its final group match will be as much a psychological challenge as a tactical one.
“It is going to be extremely difficult,” Neveu said. “How can you fight with a loss that has been so big? I think I have to make them feel the best that I can and prepare a good game and also raise their morale, raise their spirits.”
The Grenadiers did make some positive history in their Group B encounter at Camping World Stadium, with James Marcelin scoring the team’s first-ever goal in the competition.
Marcelin’s strike on a rebound in the 70th minute brought perhaps the largest roar of the night from a crowd of 28,241 at Camping World Stadium, many of whom wore Haiti’s blue and red.
“I’m just blessed to be part of this,” said Marcelin, who plays for the Carolina Railhawks in the NASL. “And I’m just blessed, happy, to score against Brazil. That’s something that I’m going to remember.”
But after conceding a hat trick to Philippe Coutinho and a brace to Renato Augusto, others like reserve midfielder Soni Mustivar wished Haiti performed better in front of such robust support.
“All the fans who came here to the stadium were amazing,” said Mustivar, a midfielder in MLS with Sporting Kansas City. “I want to say especially thank you to all the fans who came in. Some fans came in from far away just for that game. I want to say also to them, I’m sorry that we lost by that score.”
Haiti still has one Group B match left to play on Sunday in East Rutherford, New Jersey, against Ecuador.
“We have to work like we did and forget this game,” Mustivar remarked. “Just forget it. Get back to work and give everything for the country in the last game.”
Despite the Brazil setback, Neveu said he was proud of the effort of his side on a muggy Florida evening.
“My players exerted a lot of energy and sometimes there was a difference of 150 centimeters,” he finished. “But my players did everything, they gave everything.”