The New York Red Bulls' Derrick Etienne made his senior international debut under testing circumstances, subbing in to Haiti's 2017 Caribbean Cup home qualifier against French Guiana for Duckens Nazon, after the visitors had taken a surprising 4-2 lead over Les Grenadiers.
Changement sur Nazon qui laisse sa place à Derrick Etienne.#HaiGu— FootKole (@FootKole) November 10, 2016
The match had started well for Haiti, with the home team quickly establishing a two-goal lead. French Guiana had a goal back by half-time, but the score nonetheless reflected the pre-match assumption that Haiti would win the game.
But French Guiana turned the match around in the second half to claim a resounding 5-2 win in Port-au-Prince.
Absolute scenes at the Stade Sylvio Cator. French Guiana have came back from two goals down to lead Haiti 2-4. Incredible. #CC2017— Nathan Carr (@caribbeanftbl) November 10, 2016
Came from two goals down to beat 2007 champions Haiti 2-5 in Port-au-Prince. Privat (3), Evans and Baal on target. https://t.co/bxCOV3NqXI— Nathan Carr (@caribbeanftbl) November 10, 2016
Not the senior international debut Etienne would have wanted, but he is now cap-tied to Haiti having made his first appearance for Les Grenadiers in a competitive game.
The result means French Guiana is qualified for the 2017 Gold Cup, as well as next year's four-team final round of Caribbean Cup (joining Martinique, Curacao and either Jamaica or Suriname).
Haiti still has a shot at making Gold Cup 2017. First, it must win its remaining Caribbean Cup qualifying game against St. Kitts and Nevis on November 13 - not an easy task for a team that just lost 5-2 at home and must now travel for an all-or-nothing match.
Next, Haiti must hope it beats St. Kitts by sufficient margin to qualify as one of the top three second-placed teams in the current group stage, thereby advancing to a three-team playoff round that will send one representative to a playoff with a Central American contender for a Gold Cup berth.
It is a more convoluted route to the regional tournament than Haiti had been hoping for, and a disappointing anti-climax for a men's national team program that boasts the reigning Caribbean champions at the U-17 and U-20 levels.
But the senior international soccer career of Derrick Etienne is underway, and he will surely have better days ahead.