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HAITI dented Russell Latapy’s ambition of a winning start to the Caribbean Football Union Final round of qualifying for the India 2017 FIFA Under-17 men’s World Cup, when beating Trinidad and Tobago 2-0 on the opening night of Caribbean qualifying at Ato Boldon stadium on Friday.

The impressive young Haitians look good enough to win the group, while Trinidad and Tobago will likely bounce back this evening in their second match of the tournament, against Bermuda, who were defeated 6-2 by a workmanlike Jamaica in the tournament’s opening match.

Trinidad and Tobago’s must-win encounter against Bermuda will be played from 6.30 p.m. today at Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva, following Haiti’s match against Jamaica, starting at 4 p.m.

Everything was ripe for a T&T victory on Friday night. An official 1,200 paying patrons turned up to back the Soca Warriors, leaving the pie and nuts vendors lamenting the fact that they had not anticipated the “big” turnout, and so had sold out their goods early.

Haiti, though, spoiled the party. A seasoned bunch, the young Haitians withstood some early pressure, then bossed the match through relentless hard work, precise passing and smothering defence.

The Haitians got a goal apiece from twin strikers Nael Elysee (22-nd) and Man of the Match Steeve Saint-Duc (67’), while both also had one incredible miss. And T&T goalie Emmanuel John, the Naparima College keeper, twice foiled the Haitians with timely saves.

“The reality of the game is that the better team won tonight. I can see why they are defending champions,” T&T head coach Latapy said, while expressing his disappointment at not winning at home. “They are a very organised team and they made it very difficult for us. They played very well.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s best chance of a goal came in the early moments, when they were playing well, and W Connection midfielder Isaiah Hudson arrowed a mid-range shot which seem set for the far corner of the net, until a flying save saw the Haitian keeper Redondio Alliance touch the ball further wide. Haiti then settled down and took over.

Latapy, though, still has lots of coaching to do. His charges played too slowly, while showed either poor or no off-the-ball movement. The defence looked suspect down the centre and the midfielders seemed to have little no clue how to play without the ball.

There were brief, individual flashes of T&T talent—Luke Singh’s deep searching ball picking out overlapping Brandon Semper; a couple testing shots from the captain John-Paul Rochford; and Hudson’s hot shot.

“I just think their positional sense was better. We seem to have big gaps,” Latapy stated. “I think it showed tonight that we weren’t really prepared as Haiti was to play international games.”

Still, the former Porto midfielder is backing his men to come good against Bermuda tonight, before meeting Jamaica in another key game on Tuesday.

“I know that we have good players and tonight we did not play to the standard we can play at,” Latapy added. “I am backing them to bounce back.”

FRIDAY’S RESULTS:

(Group A)
HAITI 2 (Nael Elysee 22’, Steeve Saint-Duc 67’) TRINIDAD & TOBAGO 0
JAMAICA 6 (Raewin Senior 5’, Kaheem Parris 17’ & 72’, Kendall Edwards 36’, Nicque Delay 42’, Tokia Russell 90 ‘(OG) BERMUDA 2 (Smith Jones- Rahzir 30’, Tokia Russell 81’)

CFU FINAL ROUND SCHEDULE:
(Today)
(Group A)
Jamaica vs Haiti, 4 p.m, Ato
Boldon Stadium
T&T vs Bermuda, 6.30 p.m., Ato Boldon Stadium

(Monday)
(Group B)
Guadeloupe vs Cuba, 5 p.m.,
Hasely Crawford Stadium
Suriname vs Curacao, 7.30 p.m., Hasely Crawford Stadium