Action from the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship match between Haiti (blue jersey) and Honduras in Carson, California, on October 3, 2015. (Photo: Mexsport)
CARSON, California -- Wearing green T-shirts and long shorts, players from the Haiti under-23 national team sat in the stands at the StubHub Center on Friday night after falling 1-0 to Honduras in the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship opener for each.
They watched Mexico post a 4-0 win over Costa Rica in the Group B nightcap, speaking amongst themselves, but keeping focus on the field. It was an opportunity to watch the defending champion Tricolor – their next opponent in the competition – up close.
Les Grenadiers and Mexico will square off on Sunday at the same venue after Costa Rica and Honduras meet in an all-Central American affair. Head coach Marc Collat signaled that his team will need to improve vastly to have a shot at being competitive against the Mexicans, who have designs on a second straight Olympic gold medal.
“We are going to take the match very seriously from the beginning,” expressed the 65-year-old, who guided the senior team to the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals. “That way, we can be focused and we won’t be overwhelmed and affected by facing a team like Mexico.”
Collat said his team needs to be more upbeat and more explosive. Against Honduras, he saw a side that could not find a rhythm and, when it did execute over sustained periods of time, it could not alter effectively the tempo and attack. There were a handful of scoring opportunities, but the goals never arrived.
Haiti could have benefitted from the presence of forward Duckens Nazon, who scored twice in this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and then followed up by netting in both legs of a World Cup Qualifying series against Grenada. The 21-year-old was on the original 20-player roster, but was eventually replaced.
“I don’t want the team to be a simple one against Mexico,” Collat finished. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t have our key player for the match against Costa Rica.”
If Honduras defeats Costa Rica, Collat and company will need to devise a way – simple or sophisticated – to overcome Mexico and avoid elimination.