Haiti looks beyond emotion ahead of Brazil meeting

Jean-Marc Alexandre (blue jersey) entered as a first-half substitute in Haiti's Copa America Centenario game against Peru on June 4, 2016, in Seattle, Washington, USA. (Photo: Mexsport)

ORLANDO, Florida – According to Haiti midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre, his side’s Group B meeting on Wednesday with Brazil in the Copa America Centenario will be one of the more emotional moments in his nation’s football history.

The occasion, however, can’t distract them from the task at hand.

“All the players, we are living this moment,” Alexandre said Tuesday. “It’s a dream come true, because we remember sitting in front of our TVs watching Brazil, and seeing that on TV, you could never imagine being on that stage.

“Yes, it’s emotional, but at the same time you’re an athlete and you’re competitive.”

While Haiti’s match against the five-time World Cup champion can be counted among the biggest it will ever play, it also comes four days after a 1-0 loss to Peru, a game in which late attempts to level fell short.

The best may have come four minutes into second-half stoppage time, when Kervens Belfort had a clear header yards from the net, only to nod Jeff Louis’ service wide of the right post.

“At this level it happens to some of the best players in the world,” a supportive Alexandre said of the miss. “Unfortunately, he didn’t put it away, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that when he came into the game…while he was there, I thought we had some of the better parts of our attacking game.”

The result means Haiti most likely needs at least a point against Brazil to keep its quarterfinal hopes alive. Alexandre, who plays his club football for the NASL’s Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the NASL, says the squad has belief.

“If we didn’t think we had a chance, I don’t think we’d be here training getting ready for this game,” expressed the 29-year-old.

For Haitian supporters, Alexandre says it may be the best of both worlds at Camping World Stadium. Brazil has become their adopted second national team.

“It’s going to be quite the experience in Haiti tomorrow,” he finished. “The fans in Haiti are going to probably come out in a win-win situation. Outside they support Brazil, but in their hearts they are loyal to us as a national team.”

This will be the third-ever meeting between Haiti and Brazil. They last squared off on August 18, 2004, a 6-0 win for the visiting Brazilians at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince, with Ronaldinho netting a hat trick.