25 Stunning World Cup Moments—Haiti versus Italy

Italy's Fabio Capello

In “25 Stunning World Cup Moments,” Simon Burnton gives a detailed account of Caribbean teams’ participation in the World Cup, particularly in 1974 (stunning moment No12). He writes that “Italy should have seen off Haiti with ease [. . .] but the group game burst into life” with Emmanuel Sanon [see photo above]. See excerpts with a link to the full article below:

The win-or-bust, tension-ratcheting final rounds of the World Cup allow memorable moments and dramatic sub-plots to breed like bacteria on a soggy handkerchief. Italy v Haiti, however, was the opening game of Group Four, a match which the heavy favourites won by a two-goal margin. And yet it was a day when one man rose into legend and another crashed into infamy; an afternoon knitted with spectacular yarns and statistical curiosities and embellished with one of the sport’s most controversial substitutions.

We should start, though, with qualification, a process through which one side sailed with record-breaking ease, while the other relied on officiating so blatantly biased it would leave the Eurovision Song Contest with a frog in its throat.

Haiti should really have qualified in 1970, when in a final two-legged play-off for Concacaf’s single place they lost 2-1 at home to El Salvador and then won 3-0 away. Aggregate scores were puzzlingly out of favour at the time, meaning the teams were tied on one win apiece – and El Salvador, having helped to start a war while seeing off Honduras in the previous round, won a decisive third meeting on neutral territory.

Four years later Concacaf’s qualifying system had totally changed. Now the region’s footballing powers played each other over three weeks in a single group, with just the winners progressing – and Haiti would host every game. The nation was governed at the time by the dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier and his ferocious militia, the Tonton Macoutes, who badly wanted their team to win and were willing to do all they could to guarantee it.

The key game turned out to be between Haiti and Trinidad and Tobago, who had perhaps the best team in their history: the top scorer in qualifying, Steve David, was joined by the man widely seen as the mini-tournament’s best player in Everald Cummings, and its finest goalkeeper, Kelvin Barclay. They were beaten 2-1, but only after Trinidad had four goals inexplicably disallowed and a couple of very decent penalty claims bizarrely snubbed.

[After Haiti’s advance to Germany. . .] That the opening match remained goalless until half-time was largely down to what the Observer described as “the supernatural brilliance” of Haiti’s goalkeeper, Henry Francillon, as Italy piled forwards. But a minute after the break the midfielder Philippe Vorbe slid a pass into space and Emmanuel Sanon – who predicted that he would score because “the Italian defence is too slow for me” and turned out to be absolutely right – raced past Luciano Spinosi, drew the goalkeeper, dodged past him and slid the ball into an empty net. After 1,143 minutes, and having frustrated many of the greatest forwards in the sport, Zoff’s record had been broken by an unheralded 22-year-old who earned $200 a month playing for Don Bosco of Pétionville.

[Photo above.]

For full article, see http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2014/apr/29/25-stunning-world-cup-moments-haiti-italy-1974

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