CONCACAF Olympic qualifying: Haiti v Costa Rica

Another minuscule crowd on hand for the start of this game. After having seen both teams play two nights ago, you would have to make Costa Rica strong favourites to win. Especially given the injury to Haiti’s starting keeper, Ednie Limage, who kept the score against Canada somewhat respectable. Her replacement Geralda Saintilus will be busy.

Haiti need to combine better in the middle and attacking third to keep possession but that will be difficult against a very skilled Costa Rican team that dominated the middle of the field against Cuba in its first game. For Costa Rica it’s really a matter of finding their shooting boots. They are confident on the ball from front to back and know a victory tonight combined with a Canada win will put them in the semi finals.

The warm ups for both teams were indicative of where they’re at. Costa Rica’s was very organized and functional. Emphasis on possession games and finishing. Haiti was more basic technique work.

First halfon the fly

  • A couple of very solid tackles from Haiti early on. One results in a totally undeserved yellow card. All ball.
  • When Costa Rica are in possession everything is on the ground unless they’re crossing from a wide position into the box. Impressive.
  • Halfway through it’s been a bit sloppy. Costa Rica not penetrating and Haiti’s work rate and determination are making this interesting. Lots of strong challenges.
  • Haiti’s keeper stacks the pads and make the old double knee save on the best chance of the game in the 29th minute!
  • Fiorda Charles, #6 for Haiti, really throws herself at corners when she comes up from the back. Could see her scoring against this relatively smaller CR team
  • More poor finishing from CR keeps it 0-0. They can’t afford this here and they definitely can’t afford it against the top flight teams if they make the semis.
  • I don’t think you’ll see many teams with the resolve and physical determination of this Haiti team. They want every loose ball and they are fully committed in the tackle and holding each other totally accountable. Can hear them snapping on each other from here when they aren’t happy about something!
  • 4 mins of first half injury time gives you some indication of the tackles flying around.

0-0 at the half is a confidence booster for Haitia and a concern for Costa Rica. CR are far more respectful of Haiti’s attack and seldom leave themselves with just one extra defender at the back. It’s limiting their ability to get people forward and that’s starting to force CR to knock longer diagonal balls to forwards rather than continue to persist with the ground game through the midfield.

It’s still Costa Rica’s game to win but Haiti will not go quietly and if a scrappy goal wins this game it’s more likely to be Haiti that get it.

Second half – on the fly

  • 49th minute. Great left foot strike on the turn on the second touch from Wendy Acosta leaves Haitian keeper Saintilus no chance as it goes just inside far post. 1-0 CR.
  • Haiti still tentative. Leaving three back to mark one CR striker when they go forward.
  • Haiti’s best spell leads to their best chance. Well saved by CR GK Arias. Following corner leads to scramble in front but no goal for Haiti.
  • Poorly cleared free kick by Haiti leads to second chance inside their six and Acosta gets her second of the game; third of the tournament. Totally unnecessary goal to give up and just when Haiti were asserting themselves in attack.
  • Replay of Acosta’s second goal shows her out jumping three Haitian defenders and the gk. Just wanted it more which is surprising given Haiti’s ferocity on loose balls to this point. So much for my prediction that a goal of the scrappy sort would be one scored by Haiti.
  • Haiti back on the ascendancy here with a couple of very close calls. Need to keep committing players forward. One goal and this becomes a very interesting last 20 minutes.
  • The game is losing its life in the last ten minutes. CR captain Daniela Cruz’s late, studs up tackle on Haiti’s captain Kencia Marseille may have ended the Haitian’s game.
  • Nope, she’s back on. That was a bad foul she was subjected to.
  • Ends 2-0 for Costa Rica.

Everything about how Costa Rica presents themselves suggests a country that is going in the right direction with it’s women’s teams. They play a very progressive style with every player obviously encouraged to work to keep the ball. Their shape is disciplined and they showed they can handle the physical side of the game. Beyond this, the team is well staffed and from the pre game warm up to the professional approach shown through the game, they are cultivating an atmosphere that indicates they want to keep improving until they are a force in women’s soccer.

Sadly, one of their players fell awkwardly in an aerial challenge right at the end of the game (can’t see her number) and is being taken away strapped down as if a spinal injury is possible. Looks like she’s going straight to the ambulance.

For Haiti, it looks like they’re tournament is over. If Canada beat Cuba (coming up in 15 minutes) they’re out.

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