Hosts crash out as Bolivia shine
Haiti produced the biggest shock of the Boys’ Youth Olympic Football Tournament as they beat the hosts Singapore 2-0 on Sunday to book their place in Wednesday’s final, where they will meet Bolivia, who ran out 3-1 winners against Montenegro in tonight’s earlier game. The two losing sides will meet again in the third-place play-off on the same day.
Match of the Day
Singapore 0-2 Haiti, Jalan Besar Stadium, Sunday 22 August
Jean Bonhomme 38’, Daniel Gedeon 80’
Singapore were roared on by a packed house from the outset, but it was the Haitians that looked more dangerous as they hit on the break, and the Young Lions were made to sweat when Bertrand Vilgrain tested the goalkeeper with a dipping shot. The hosts had their first chance midway through the opening half, when Illyas Lee's diving header flashed just wide. Indeed, they could have broken the deadlock soon after when Jonathan Tan cut the ball back from the goal-line but Brandon Koh headed over with the goal at his mercy.
At the other end, Haiti striker Carlos Gluce also wasted a golden chance when, faced with a one-on-one situation, he shot straight at the goalkeeper. But their efforts paid off just before the break when Vilgrain’s well-weighed shot was palmed away by the goalkeeper and Jean Bonhomme was on hand to head home.
The hosts pressed hard to get back into the contest but with their ace striker Muhaimin Suhaimi closely marked, they were being restricted to half-chances. Singapore threw everything forward in the closing stages but the Haitians kept their cool to hold off the attacking waves. In the last minute of regular time, Sandino Saint Jean was tripped in the area and captain Daniel Gredeon stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick and seal a sensational 2-0 victory for his unfancied side.
The other game
Bolivia 3-1 Montenegro, Jalan Besar Stadium, Sunday 22 August
Goals: Jorge Sabja 5’, Rodrigo Mejido 56’, Luis Banegas 60’; Aleksandar Boljevic 26’
Tournament favourites Bolivia faced their first real test as they were paired with a resilient Montenegro side in their semi-final clash. Jorge Sabja put the South Americans ahead inside five minutes but having weathered the early storm, the Europeans clawed themselves back into the contest with a goal from Aleksandar Boljevic. However, two goals in four second-half minutes - from Rodrigo Mejido and Luis Banegas - sent Bolivia through.
Coach Douglas Cuenca’s outfits got off to the perfect start when Sabja fired into the roof of the net early on. Bolivia were enjoying the lion’s share of the possession, wreaking havoc in the Montenegro area, but the Europeans were looking dangerous on the counter-attack and they equalised through Boljevic after 26 minutes, the youngster rounding the goalkeeper to shoot into an empty net. The second half continued in the same fashion with Montenegro on the back foot while their adventurous opponents attacked freely, and shortly before the hour mark Mejido restored Bolivia's lead, pouncing on a loose ball in the area to finish from close range. A solo effort from Banegas just four minutes later sealed the victory.
The goal of the day
Having made his name as a supersub in their opening game, Banegas went on to showcase his finishing talents in today’s game. Charging forward from the centre of the park, he turned his marker inside out before firing a low shot past the goalkeeper.
"It was a very victory for us and we are happy that we can bring a smile back on the faces of our people," Pierre Sonche, Haiti coach