Trinidad and Tobago have a history of hard football matches against Haiti. Friday's opening match of the 2012 Caribbean Cup was no different, the teams battling to a tough goalless draw at the Antigua Recreation Ground (ARG) here.
Still, the match produced more intense football than the Dominican Republic's surprise 2-1 win over the hosts, Antigua and Barbuda in the second match.
However, T&T's "Soca Warriors" will have to start winning tonight to advance to the second round. From 7pm, they face aging, limited Antigua and Barbuda who are on the brink of elimination and will thus fight for their lives before their home fans.
First match winners the Dominican Republic have a stiffer test against Haiti at 5 p.m.
"I think it will be very interesting because we have to come away with three points," T&T's joint head coach Jamaal Shabazz said of the Antigua match. "It wasn't a bad first outing, we just have to reorganise and come again."
On Friday, Haiti wanted victory as much as Trinidad and Tobago.
It was not always pretty. The match was initially played at a frenzied pace, with no one getting time to settle. Testing bounce made control particularly difficult and put any defender who allowed the ball to bounce in trouble.
"The game was a tough one. Tactically-wise I thought we could have been better," said head-coach No.1, Hutson Charles.
"I thought we should have made better use of our chances in the first half which could have put us in a better position as the match went on. A point is not a bad result, but I would have much preferred three points to start the tournament."
T&T started with the now regular 4-5-1 formation spearheaded by Vietnam-based striker Willis Plaza at the top, while Ataullah Guerra, Joevin Jones, Densill Theobald, Kevin Molino and Hughtun Hector made up the midfield five.
Seon Power, Carlyle Mitchell, Aubrey David and Daneil Cyrus were the back four, ahead of goalkeeper Jan Michael Williams. Slovakia-based Lester Peltier, Keyon Edwards and Kevon Carter also came on in the second half.
Central midfielder Theobald struggled with the initial pace of the game, was deliberately hassled, and lost a few of his passes. Hector also struggled with his first touch and did not always look committed to defending, while right-back Cyrus always looked vulnerable to Pascal Millien's runs up the flanks, and was sometimes also too willing to run forward.
T&T looked the better team in the first half, without putting away the couple chances they created , while Haiti did their best work early in the second session.
Midfielder Guerra should have scored Trinidad and Tobago's best chance, a free header in the 12th minute, but put Hector's cross to close to Haitian keeper Jhony Placide, who barely touched the ball wide.
Moments later, Plaza also missed from close-up, while Hector had a second half shot pushed over by the Haitian captain Placide, in the 60th after cutting atop the penalty area and shooting powerfully.
In the end, though, a draw seemed a fair result.
TRINIDAD and TOBAGO TEAM: 1. Jan Michael Williams, 2. Aubrey David, 3. Joevin Jones, 5. Carlyle Mitchell, 7. Hughtun Hector, 8. Ataullah Guerra (11. Kevon Carter, 73'), 10. Kevin Molino (16. Keyon Edwards, 81'), 14. Willis Plaza (12. Lester Peltier, 46') 17. Daneil Cyrus, 18. Densill Theobald, 20. Seon Power. Subs not used:Marvin Phillip, Kareem Moses, Richard Roy, Devorn Jorsling, Jamal Gay, Curtis Gonzales.
GROUP A STANDINGS:
P W D L F A Pts
Dominican Republic 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
Trinidad & Tobago 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Haiti 1 0 1 0 0 0 1
Antigua & Barbuda 1 0 0 1 1 2 0