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a547: soccer

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Published Sunday, January 27, 2002

Working overtime pays off in Gold Cup
Costa Rica, Canada move into semifinals

The Gold Cup boxscores say Costa Rica and Canada won
their quarterfinals in overtime at the Orange Bowl on

And officially, that's correct.

But Haiti and Martinique also can consider themselves
victorious as they head home this morning, for the
Caribbean underdogs won a great deal of respect over
the past eight days.

Haiti gave two World Cup-bound teams all they could
handle, beating Ecuador 2-0 in the first round and
losing 2-1 in overtime to Costa Rica. Martinique, not
even a full member of FIFA, took defending Gold Cup
champion Canada to double overtime at 1-1 before
losing 6-5 in penalty kicks.

Costa Rican veteran midfielder Wilmer Lopez said:
``I'm glad we aren't playing a Caribbean team in the
semifinals. The Haitians proved a lot, and I think we
will have to worry about them in the qualifying round
for the next World Cup.''

Precisely the words the Haitians wanted to hear.

``We wanted to perform, not just participate,''
Haitian defender Gilbert Jean-Baptiste said. ``It
means so much to us, and to Haitians everywhere,
because for so long, Haitians like to criticize our
team. That's how we were raised. Finally, we have
something to be very proud of.''

Haiti went toe-to-toe with the Costa Ricans before the
joy ride came to a halt with a 20-yard rocket of a
shot from Ronald Gomez eight minutes into overtime.
Costa Rican star forward Paulo Wanchope, just in from
England's Manchester City, drew four Haitian
defenders, and kicked the ball out to Gomez, who
blasted in a left-footed shot.

Haitian goalie Geteau Ferdinand stood frozen, hands on
his knees, as Gomez's shot flew past him inside the
left post. Ferdinand later said the defenders
surrounding Gomez blocked his view and he didn't have
enough time to react.

The Haitians forced overtime with a perfectly placed
header by Golman Pierre in the 62nd minute.

Roosevelt Desir sent an arching cross from the right
wing deep into the penalty box and Pierre knocked it
in, delighting the Haitian contingent in the crowd of

Costa Rica had taken the lead in the second minute,
when Walter Centeno settled the ball about 25 yards
out and got a clear look at the goal. Ferdinand dived
toward the left post, but was too late. Haiti had a
chance to equalize in the 36th minute when Costa Rican
goalie Erick Lonnis mishandled a loose ball, which
Jean-Jacques Pierre pounced on. But Reynaldo Parks
deflected the shot at the goal line.

``To play equal with Costa Rica, the top team in
CONCACAF, with a largely semi-pro team says something,
but I reiterate what I said before the tournament, we
need 18 months to get to the level I'd like,'' said
Haiti coach Jorge Castelli, an Argentine hired in

``Coming so close, it would have been nice to have
gone forward, but the evolution of a team doesn't
happen in one day, and it wasn't our turn yet.''

Jean-Baptiste has noticed radical improvement under
Castelli, and realized during a training trip to
Argentina just how much the new coach had to offer.
Castelli has coached some of Argentina's most famous
clubs, including San Lorenzo, Racing and Newell's Old

``It's very, very easy to see how we are different
under this coach,'' Jean-Baptiste said. ``He took us
to his country, which is equal to Europe in terms of
soccer tradition, and he had us play against some
excellent clubs. We saw how respected he was
everywhere we went, almost like he was a god. Newell's
pounded us, like three or four to one, and the crowd
still gave our coach a standing ovation.

``He recognizes the quality of Haitian players, and he
has been able to organize us and let us play. Because
he's foreign, we tend to listen to him more. This
isn't a knock on Haitian coaches, it's just the way it

Asked whether the 2006 World Cup is a realistic goal,
Jean-Baptiste replied: ``If not, then we'll get there
four years later. But we will get there. I truly
believe that.''

In the second quarterfinal, Canada fell behind on an
own goal by Mark Rogers in the 63rd minute, but tied
with a Kevin McKenna goal in the 73rd, his third of
the tournament. Martinique played the final 59 minutes
a man down after Jean-Victor Lavril was ejected. Jason
Bent scored the winning penalty kick for Canada.

Costa Rica advances to the semifinals Wednesday in
Pasadena and plays the winner of today's Mexico-South
Korea match. Canada plays the U.S.-El Salvador winner.

The final is Saturday at the Rose Bowl.

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