Haiti's Team Guide

By Sports Desk July 17, 2023
Haiti's Head coach Nicolas Delepine Haiti's Head coach Nicolas Delepine

With the 2023 staging of the FIFA Women's World Cup set to kick off in a few days, Sportsmax.tv will be featuring Player Profiles and Team Guides for three of the CONCACAF nations set to represent at the global showpiece in Australia and New Zealand. Today, we start with Haiti.

Written by Pierre Richard Midy


“There’s a lot of unhappiness in the country and football is the joy.” This quote from midfielder Danielle Etienne says everything about what qualifying for the World Cup means to the people of Haiti. There is no doubt that Les Grenadières have written a new page in their history by reaching this stage.

Nicolas Delépine’s side have finally matched the men’s achievement of qualifying for the World Cup in 1974 after coming close on several occasions. With a fulcrum based around several members of the squad that made it to the U-20 World Cup in 2018, including star player Melchie Dumornay - known as Corventina - Haiti defied expectations by beating Chile 2-1 in the inter-confederation playoff.

The Caribbean nation has been hit with a raft of crises, with the assassination of the president Jovenel Moïse in 2021 adding to the country’s insecurity amid a series of natural disasters.

The country was also shaken by the sexual abuse scandals that have stained Haitian football, particularly those involving the then president of the football federation, Yves Jean-Bart. Fifa’s ethics committee handed Jean-Bart a lifetime bans in November 2020 for alleged harassment and sexual abuse against female footballers after a series of investigations by the Guardian. That sentence was overturned by the court of arbitration for sport in March 2022, but Fifa has since appealed that decision. Jean-Bart denies any wrongdoing. 

A normalisation committee has been in charge of Haitian football since December 2020 when Jean-Bart was first accused but Etienne, who is the daughter of former Haiti striker Derrick Etienne and was born in the United States, is hoping the World Cup can be the start of a brighter future. “We want that for the country as a whole, to have a breath of fresh air and kind of step aside from anything going on,” says the player.

The coach

A native of Nantes, Nicolas Delépine has more than 20 years of experience in French football, particularly with Nantes, Montpellier, Guingamp and more recently as coach of the Grenoble women's team. Having taken over Haiti in February 2022, Delépine has achieved an unprecedented feat: qualifying for the Women's World Cup. “We had to get to know the players first, find out what drives them, their strengths and their culture, so we could get the best out of them,” he said. “That’s how you get players to play to their potential: when you go out looking for the positive points but especially when you learn to get to know each other. We didn’t want to impose things but to build together."

The 43-year-old structures his teams according to the opponent and does not seem attached to a particular setup. In their last five matches, Haiti have fielded five different formations and Delépine is confident of causing a few shocks in a group containing England, China and Denmark. “We’re going there as outsiders and we’ve said that the bigger the mountains and the bigger the challenges, the more beautiful the success,” he said. “You might think we’re a bit crazy or out of our minds, but we want to go and spring a surprise, maybe a couple and, why not, make the last 16.”

Star player

Despite her tender age, 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay will arrive at the World Cup with the dreams of a nation on her shoulders. Solid, fast, technical, an excellent goalscorer and a very good passer, Dumornay participated in the adventure of the U-20 World Cup in 2018 when she was not even 15 years old. With a new contract already agreed at one of the biggest clubs in Europe, Lyon, after shining at Reims last season, the stage is set for Corventina to become an even bigger superstar. 

Rising star

At 24, Nérilia Mondésir has accumulated a lot of experience but is still improving. Known as Nerigol, the captain of Haiti scored all three goals for her country at the U-20 World Cup and was instrumental in helping the senior side to qualify for this World Cup having scored against Senegal in the playoff semi-finals before setting up Dumornay for a goal against Chile in the final. “We trust our group, we do everything together,” she says.

Did you know?

Midfielder Etienne actively participated in Haiti's qualification for the 2023 Women's World Cup less than three months after giving birth to a baby. Her great talent, love and dedication to the national team has earned Etienne huge admiration from the press and the public in Haiti.

Standing of women’s football in Haiti

Media and TV coverage of women’s football in Haiti is very low. But Dumornay's breakthrough and the senior women's team's first World Cup qualification is turning the tide. Currently Haitian people shiver with passion at the approach of the tournament in Australia and New Zealand. The hope is that participation in the World Cup can serve to boost women's football in the country. 

Realistic aim at the World Cup?

“When you take a step back and look at the women’s world ranking, we’ve got the hardest group in the tournament,” said Delépine. “We’re up against England, who are fourth, as well as China who are 14th and Denmark who are 18th [now 13th]. But we will certainly give it our best shot.”

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