Haiti forward Ronaldo Damus (blue jersey) in Caribbean U-20 qualifying action against Bermuda on October 28, 2016, in Willemstad, Curacao. (Photo: David Heykoop)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti has a rich footballing history that includes participation in two FIFA competitions: the 1974 World Cup in West Germany and the 2007 U-17 World Cup in Korea Republic.
Les Grenadiers could add to their list of global events by earning a place in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which, coincidentally, will be played in Korea. In order for the to happen, however, they must finish among the top four teams next year’s CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
Forward Ronaldo Damus is hoping to do just that, but his team will first have to navigate successfully a first-round group that consists of the Panama, St. Kitts & Nevis and the United States, before it can take the next necessary steps.
“This will not be an easy group for us,” the talented 17-year-old told CONCACAF.com. “These are three very difficult teams to play against, but we are champions of the Caribbean at the U-20 level. We deserve to be here as well and I feel once we play like we did in the CFU U-20 final round in Curacao, then I believe we will do very well in this tournament.”
Haiti captured the Caribbean crown by going unbeaten in the final round with an overall record of 4W-1D-0L that was capped by a 4-0 victory over Antigua & Barbuda in the final. Damus scored twice in that match, giving him a team-high six goals for the competition.
“When we started the qualifiers in June, we set a target to go to the U-20 World Cup and that is all that is on my mind and my teammates,” finished Damus, a fan of Karim Benzema and Real Madrid. “We saw clips of past youth players playing in an U-17 World Cup in Korea a few years back. We want to return to Korea, this time at the U-20 level. This will bring joy to our country. We have the players to do well. All we need to do now is focus and prepare well.”
The CONCACAF Under-20 Championship will be played February 17-March 5, 2017, in Costa Rica.