By the Caribbean Journal staff
For a while, it was looking like Spain would cruise to a 2-0 shutout against Haiti.
But in the 75th minute, Wilde-Donald Guerrier made it through Spain’s defenders and put one home, giving Haiti its first goal of the game and a solid showing against one of the greatest national teams in history.
The goal, which will likely go down in Haitian athletic lore, said a lot about the growth of Haitian football — and that Les Grenadiers would not go down without a fight, finishing with a 2-1 loss to La Roja.
Haiti, currently at 63rd on the FIFA/Coca-Cola list, entered the game as a decided underdog against Spain, currently ranked number one in the world and coming in with consecutive European championships and a World Cup on its resume.
And the Spaniards got out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas before halftime.
But Les Grenadiers played Spain tough all day in a game being held in part to raise money for Project Phoenix, a planned 12,000-seat stadium in Port-au-Prince’s Cite Soleil neighbourhood.
The praise poured in for Haiti’s showing on Twitter, from Haiti President Michel Martelly, who said he was “proud of our football team,” to Haitian music star Wyclef Jean, who tweeted that “In defeat I believe #Haiti show great heart and team spirit, what a match I am proud of my fellow countrymen, take a bow guys.”
The game could also lead to something more for the career of Guerrier, who turned heads with his goal and play throughout the game.
The Phoenix project, first announced last year, is projected to cost $5 million. It is the brainchild of entrepreneur Morad Fareed and Haitian football legend Boby Duval.
Haiti next faces Italy in a friendly in Brazil.