Haiti raced through Caribbean qualifying with a nearly unblemished record (7W-1D-0L, 30GF, 2GA) to capture the title and earn a place in the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship for an eighth time.
The Grenadiers lifted the trophy by defeating Antigua & Barbuda in the final, 4-0, on braces from Roberto Louima (21’, 38’) and Ronaldo Damus (47’, 85’).
The strike force of Louima (19-years-old), Damus (17) and Jonel Desire (20) form an impressive front line that promises to taunt CONCACAF defenses for many years to come. Each has already played for the senior squad, giving hope to Haitian fans that the best is yet to come.
Louima and Damus were the team’s joint-top scorers in Caribbean qualifying with eight goals each, while Desire netted twice. Damus was tied for third on the 2015 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship scoring chart with four goals, while Desire struck four times in the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship.
While Haiti’s offensive firepower often grabs the headlines, its defense should not be underestimated. Goalkeeper Isaac Rouaud is based in France with Le Mans and defender Wilmond Oracius is on the books with Brazil’s Viva Rio. Odilon Jerome hit the back of the net once in qualifying.
Another player to keep an eye on is midfielder Kenley Dede. The 18-year-old notched four goals in Caribbean qualifying and also appeared in each of Don Bosco’s four games in the 2016/17 Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League, gaining valuable experience against the likes of Mexico’s Monterrey.
From the start of the 2017 edition, Haiti is winless in its last seven CONCACAF Under-20 Championship games. Its last win came against Guatemala, 2-0, on January 21, 2007.
Caribbean Qualifying Results
29.06.16 Haiti 8, Anguilla 0
01.07.16 Haiti 3, Bermuda 0
03.07.16 Haiti 5, Cayman Islands 0
22.10.16 Haiti 5, St. Lucia 1
24.10.16 Haiti 2, Cuba 1
26.10.16 Trinidad & Tobago 0, Haiti 0
28.10.16 Haiti 3, Bermuda 0
30.10.16 Antigua & Barbuda 0, Haiti 4