Saturday, December 16, 2017

Haiti edge Dominican Republic 2-1 for Group A lead

Haiti moved closer towards qualifying for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup after edging neighbours Dominican Republic 2-1 in their second Group A 2012 Caribbean Cup Football Championship match last night at Antigua Recreation ground in St John's, Antigua. After drawing their opening match 0-0 with Trinidad and Tobago on Friday, Haiti now have four points. A win tomorrow night against hosts Antigua-Barbuda will see Haiti through to the semi-finals, and also automatic Gold Cup qualifiers.

Haiti began quickly and were soon in the lead, Leonel St Preux giving them a ninth minute lead with a powerful volley from the centre of the penalty area. Dominican Republic goalkeeper Miguel Lloyd had no chance as the ball powerfully flew past into the centre of the net.

It looked like Haiti would go onto swamp the Dominican Republic with their powerful early play, but the opening night winners are made of sterner stuff these days, evidenced by their two qualifying group wins to reach the finals, and also reducing Martinique to second spot at the semi-final stage.

Dominican Republic were soon back level at 1-1 in just the 12th minute when striker Kerbi Rodriguez powerfully put in a rebound, after Haitian keeper Jhony Placide initially parried a powerful shot at his goal. The match remained delicately balanced until a defensive mix-up between Dominican Republic goalie Lloyd and his central defender Rafael Leonardo gave striker Pegero Plilippe a goal in the 39th minute and Haiti a 2-1 lead. Expecting his 'keeper to come, the central defender made the flaw of letting the ball bounce on the bone hard surface of essentially a cricket ground

The ball skipped up on the surface, allowing Philippe to get between the Dominican Republic players, and with a high stretching leg, he put the ball over the keeper. Haiti almost had a third before the half ended when Philippe swept the ball onto the bottom of the upright from a corner-kick, then held his head in disbelief.

Haiti continued to push forward in the second half and came close to scoring in the 52nd through a free-kick from Olrish Saurel, which the Dominican Republic keeper turned away for a corner. The Dominican Republic did not have the type of impact they in their opening 2-1 first match win over host Antigua and Barbuda.

But even though both Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago looked better teams than the Dominican Republic from the very first match, the latter team are nevertheless are skilful, have a good midfield and are very fast on the counter-attack. They gave it a go, but could not pierce the Haitian defence.

—Ian Prescott