Head coach Patrice Neveu (pictured) pointed Haiti in the right direction against Trinidad & Tobago in a Copa America Centenario play-in match on January 8, 2016, in Panama City. (Photo: Mexsport)
PANAMA CITY, Panama – The career of Haiti head coach Patrice Neveu has taken him to some fascinating locales.
From leading clubs in his native France, China and Egypt to being in charge of African national teams Niger, Guinea, DR Congo and, most recently, Mauritania, the 61-year-old certainly holds a distinctive passport.
But just weeks after accepting a new position, Neveu enjoyed the defining moment of his footballing journey: directing Haiti to a berth in the 2016 Copa America Centenario with a 1-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago on Friday at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
“It was not only my job, but was the job done by everybody, the entire staff,” said Neveu, who officially replaced Marc Collat on December 19. “The players have easily understood my tactics, but this is the biggest accomplishment of my career.
“[The Copa America] is going to be the biggest tournament that I’m going to contest in my career.”
Neveu did have some previous experience against CONCACAF opposition. In 2013, he guided Mauritania to a draw (0-0) and a win (1-0) in a pair of international friendlies against Canada.
Now, he’s hoping to continue that success against the region’s other sides. With passage secured to the Copa America, Neveu will shift focus to getting Haiti’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign back on course. After failing to pick up a point in their opening two fourth-round games, Les Grenadiers will be looking to bounce back against Panama – twice – in March, including a return trip to the Rommel Fernandez.
Neveu likes the team’s chances going forward.
“We came [to Panama] for one game and we didn’t have all our players,” he finished. “We had eight starters missing on the team, so for sure, if they’re not injured, they’re going to be there against Panama.
“It’s going to be a different ball game.”
And, possibly, more feathers in Neveu’s well-traveled cap.