The Haitians were attempting to qualify for the game’s biggest spectacle as far back as 1934, but the country’s crowning achievement didn’t come until 1974 when they became only the second side from the Caribbean to qualify for a World Cup. They beat Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and Honduras to book passage to the 1974 finals in West Germany. Hoping to recapture the glory days in 2014, they fell flat in the first group stage and lost to lowly Antigua and Barbuda. Haiti open their Russia 2018 account in the third stage, getting a bye through the first and second preliminary stages.
As ever, the Haitian side is packed through with hungry local-based talent and a handful of player overseas in France. Captain and goalkeeper Johnny Placide lines up for French outfit Reims and leads the team with his experience and commanding personality. Romain Genevois plays at Nice and will round out a side based on power and, at times, physically assertive play. Jean-Philippe Peguero, too, remains dangerous in attack despite his advancing age.
Marc Collat was born in Martinique, but is well acquainted with football in France, having played as a defender in the old French first division. He has coached in Africa, Asia and Europe too, and is well regarded as a strong organizer of men. He has proven himself willing to run the rule over young and unknown players in Haiti.
50 – The number of people with connections to Haitian football who died in the devastating earthquake in 2010, which still takes a toll on the country’s football today.
The former stars
Emmanuel Sanon, Henri Francillon, Phillippe Vorbe