After leaving the national team in controversial manner, Marc Collat returned with a vengeance and Japan almost became a collateral damage as Duckens "The Duck" Nazon scored two beautiful goals to remind the Asian powerhouse that CONCACAF is a more competitive region.
The match pitching Grenadiers versus Samurai was very entertaining from the beginning to the end. Neither team wanted to give up territories to the other and attacks and counterattacks were clearly on the menu. However, the Grenadiers youth and physical strength seemed to bother the tricky Japanese who were very good on counterattacks but somewhat inefficient in front of the goal. Kevin Lafrance size and strength even allowed him to power his way through the Japanese defense to reduce the margin to 2-1 after the host grabbed an early 2 goal lead.
Collat who started his first tenure of the national team playing a football style that was so lacking in effective offenses that the team went years scoring only a few couple goals versus mainly low level competitions in the Caribbean. Despite that the coach eventually gave in to his critics in 2015 and abandoned his austere style, Haiti remained a mostly defensive team which led to its elimination from the world cup qualifiers after back to back loses to nemesis Jamaica. Collat left in disgrace.
However, for his first match as a revenant, Collat kept his learnt lesson of mixing defense with offense. Contrarily to the 2013-2015 team who mostly moved the ball along the wings through long overhead passes, Collat's met Japan in the middle of the field frustrating the Japanese with sudden and punishing counterattacks.
It is also interesting to notice that Collat seems to have a more open-minded approach this time as he has made some unexpected choices of players that contradict his known bias favoring players from France.
Haiti lacked a strong midfield which resulted in a slight Japanese domination in the area however but its mid-defense line with Herivaux and Lafrance was good enough to break up most of the Samurai attacks. Etienne, Sanon, Guerrier standing behind Nazon in attack meant that the host was in constant danger. Japan had no choice but to keep a larger than usual defensive crew to avoid an onslaught on its back line.
The sole local player who entered the game late in the second half, Mardoche Pompe, looked very good breaking up many Japanese attacks on the right wing and even saved Placide in once occasion by deviating a dangerous pass in the box that was going toward the ubiquitous central midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi. However, the Japanese equalizer seemed to be the result of Pompe's leaving too much room to a Japanese left winger whose cross created chaos in the Haiti's box and allowed the host to walk out in extremis with some honor.