The New York Red Bulls' Derrick Etienne is hoping for his second men's national team cap for Haiti, and for a better result than he experienced on his debut. Etienne's first appearance for Les Grenadiers was, unfortunately, during one of the team's worst defeats in recent memory: a 5-2 loss, suffered at home, to French Guiana. To further the indignity of the outcome, Haiti had scored the first two goals of the game, and then been forced to watch its opponent surge to a win and automatic qualification for next year's Gold Cup.
St. Kitts and Nevis also lost to French Guiana in Caribbean Cup (and Gold Cup) qualifying. This match is, therefore, effectively a playoff for second place in the qualifying group - and a shot at making the three-team playoff that will send one lucky loser from this round to the 2017 Gold Cup.
Of the two teams, Haiti has the greater reputation and better-regarded players. Kervens Belfort, Duckens Nazon, and Sony Norde are all experienced internationals currently playing in Indian Super League. Wilde-Donald Guerrier is currently playing (and scoring goals) for Alanyaspor in Turkey's top flight. 'Keeper Johnny Placide has been getting regular minutes in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 for several years.
But the St. Kitts and Nevis Sugar Boyz have recently renewed their ambition. Mexican head coach Jacques Passy was appointed in 2015. Though he was not able to guide the Sugar Boyz past El Salvador in World Cup qualifying, the team is currently regarded as one of the up-and-comers in Caribbean international football. Its best-known player is Atiba Harris, a versatile MLS veteran. And there are several pros recruited from England's lower leagues, while a few local players have also started to find their way to clubs in El Salvador and Mexico.
Kittitian soccer is making a concerted effort to raise its standard and profile (after this game, the Sugar Boyz will welcome Estonia to Basseterre for a mid-November friendly). A home win over Haiti would keep the team's Gold Cup qualifying ambitions alive, and send the message that the Caribbean does indeed have a new challenger to the traditional heavyweights in the region.
Haiti, on the other hand, needs a positive result to ease the pain of the loss to French Guiana. The Haitian Football Federation dubbed the 5-2 loss "Black Wednesday" and described itself a "slaughtered and disappointed" in an official statement. Unsurprisingly, there have been calls for head coach Patrice Neveu to be dismissed. Les Grenadiers are vulnerable and in danger of finishing last in a group they were favorite to win.
Caribbean Cup qualifying does not allow for ties: this match will go to extra time and penalties, if the proves necessary to separate one the region's traditional top performers from one of its more ambitious emerging sides.