Haiti hopes Copa experience yields future returns

Haiti (pictured) gathers for a team photo prior to facing Ecuador in the Copa America Centenario on May 12, 2016, in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo: Mexsport)


EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey – The results weren’t positive, but the experience of competing in the Copa America Centenario was for Haiti.

The Grenadiers lost all three of their Group B matches against South American sides Brazil, Peru and Ecuador, but according to midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre playing a high level of competition will be a benefit in the future.

“When you play teams that are better than you it forces you to raise up your level,” he said. “It’s good for us to be able to see teams play at that high of a level and it shows us how much work we need to do. I think being in this tournament exposed all our weaknesses. And because we were able to know our weaknesses, we can work on it and get better as a team.”

Haiti showed fight and didn’t back down against superior opposition, which is a positive the team can draw upon.

“I think we showed a good face, we weren’t pushed around too much,” remarked Haiti head coach Patrice Neveu. “It’s true we fell into a very strong group with Peru, Ecuador and Brazil. It’s also true that every team at that level has players that play at a really high level and they have the experience as well. That makes the whole difference.”

Alexandre believes Haiti responded well after a lopsided 7-1 loss to Brazil. Although his side fell behind 2-0 after 20 minutes on Sunday, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers midfielder thinks that the showing in the 4-0 setback to Ecuador was better than the final scoreline might indicate.

“Despite the score, I felt like we ended the tournament on a good note,” Alexandre expressed. “You could tell as the game went by we really gave our all that last game. There were moments where we were the better team on the field against Ecuador. They really gave their best. They were trying so hard to keep us under pressure the first half, but as the game went on we started to get control.”

Alexandre said now is the time to rest and reflect on the experience of playing in Copa America Centenario and to use that going forward in CONCACAF competition, where Haiti next faces visiting Costa Rica in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on September 2.

“We can regroup and try to see if we can put our stamp in the Caribbean,” finished Alexandre. “For us to be able to perform at these tournaments, first we have to be better in the Caribbean and be one of the top teams there. This tournament definitely gave us some experience and I think overall we will better as a team.”