COUVA, Trinidad & Tobago — It is the happiest of anniversaries in Haiti.
Women’s football is in its 40th year in the Caribbean nation and, thanks to qualifying for the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, the celebrations will be even more joyous.
Haiti booked a ticket to France by defeating Canada, 1-0, in the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship third place match on Sunday at Ato Boldon Stadium.
“It’s very important because this year marks the 40th anniversary of women’s football,” Haiti head coach Marc Collat said. “As a country, we’re certain everyone is going to remember it.”
It was a vastly different result when the teams met in Group A play, as Canada cruised to a 4-0 victory on Jan. 22.
With a first-ever trip to the CU20W semifinals confirmed on the strength of 3-2 wins over Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica, Collat made nine changes to his side in the final group stage encounter, including resting star Nerilia Mondesir.
As a result, when Haiti and Canada met again for CONCACAF’s third and last World Cup berth, Collat was confident his squad would submit a better performance.
He was right.
Asked to put into words the raw emotion felt immediately after the final whistle that signified Haiti’s historic and dramatic 1-0 win over Canada in the third place match of the 2018 CONCACAF Under-20 Women’s Championship, Sherly Jeudy couldn’t help but let out a giggle.
It’s a feeling that will last for a long time for Jeudy and her teammates, who clinched the country’s first-ever FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup berth Sunday at Ato Boldon Stadium.
The 19-year-old’s first CU20W goal is the one that will go down in Haitian history as she latched onto an inch-perfect through ball by captain Nerilia Mondesir and burst into the 18-yard box with her first touch. On her second touch, Jeudy blasted the ball just under the crossbar from 12-yards out for what proved to be the game-winner in the 18th minute.
“I’m very happy I was able to score the goal, but I’m even happier for Haiti as a country,” said Jeudy. “I was just so very happy because we were able to qualify.”
Despite being the youngest team at the CU20W, there was a confidence among the Haitians that they could achieve what no other Caribbean county was able to do previously.
Did Jeudy believe a World Cup berth was possible? She offered up a simple response: “Oui.”
One reason, according to the midfielder, was the work put in during the tournament and even well before it arrived in Trinidad & Tobago. That effort, Jeudy pledges, will continue in France this August as Haiti continues to chase history.
“The team worked hard to get here,” she finished. “We know going forward we have to work even harder so we can advance in the competition.” The Haitians made sure Sherly Jeudy’s first-half goal stood with their best defensive performance of the tournament, shutting out a Canadian side that scored 11 goals in three wins to finish atop the Group A table.
It was only Haiti’s second-ever CU20W clean sheet, after playing Jamaica to a 0-0 draw in 2012.
“Defensively, they did what I required them to do and I’m very happy about that,” said Collat.
The celebration will continue Sunday for Haiti, the first-ever Caribbean nation to qualify for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, but the work begins anew come Monday.
“It’s a relief, but it is going to make us train harder and even in better condition going forward from here to represent CONCACAF at the World Cup,” Collat finished. “We can’t think about the past. We have to think about the future.”