French Guiana took third place after overcoming hosts Martinique, 0-1, thanks to substitute Sloan Privat’s second half strike…
REPORTING FROM FORT-DE-FRANCE, MARTINIQUE – The third place playoff – or ‘small final’ as some referred to the occasion as – pitted Martinique and French Guiana against each other in the battle of the French overseas departments. In Thursday’s semi-finals, the hosts fell to eventual champions Curacao whilst Yana Doko gave Jamaica a real run for their money, going onto lose on spot kicks.
Jean-Marc Civault told local media over the weekend that he intended on mixing up his starting lineup and we saw four changes for Martinique: Karl Vitulin in for Nicolas Zaire, Jean-Manuel Nedra in for Christof Jougon, Dominique Pandor in for Steeven Langil and Johnny Marajo in for Yoann Arquin. French Guiana, on the other hand, made two changes with Miguel and Jules Haabo coming into the first team fold for Kevin Rimane and the injured Arnold Abelinti.
There were opportunities for both sides to take the lead in the first half. Shaquille Dutard was proving a threat in behind for French Guiana and within the opening few minutes, he was played in by Jules Haabo but his shot was comfortably dealt with by Kevin Olimpa. The former went closest for his side, using his side foot to try and curl the ball into the far corner and he was not far off from finding it. Before that, Pandor blazed over via a deflection following some intricate build up play from Martinique. Marajo missed a header inside the box and, seconds later, Pandor produced a magnificent nutmeg to beat his man but the move petered out. Pandor and Marajo were looking dangerous for Les Matinino, who were playing without any orthodox wingers. The full-backs Antoine Jean-Baptiste and Vitulin were supplying the width in what looked like a 4-1-3-2 with Daniel Herelle holding and Stephane Abaul, Nedra and Pandor in front.
Jair Karam’s side were lined up in a 4-3-3 with Dutard as the main outlet up front. Florent Malouda was headlining the middle three while Jules Haabo and Evens were playing out wide. The latter went reasonably close from a long-range free-kick, his effort dipping but just off target. In truth the first half was scrappy and on the whole uneventful.
On came Sloan Privat, who only arrived in Martinique on Saturday a day before the game, and Rimane at half-time. Miguel and Jules Haabo made way. This was an attacking switch by Karam as Privat partnered Dutard in a new striking partnership and Rimane stationed himself on the right wing. It was a slow beginning to the second period as neither team strung together any cohesive moves or clear-cut chances. Dutard skewed his shot wide before Evens saw his effort tipped away by Olimpa, but there was a general lack of movement and flow in the game. You could tell that one goal was likely to separate the two at full-time.
The breakthrough came for French Guiana with around 15 minutes left on the clock. The substitute Privat, who scored a hat-trick against Haiti in Port-au-Prince last November, got on the end of an Evens cross to send his country one nil up. The Guingamp striker only arrived a day before but he had delivered the goods.
Jougon and Langil were brought on as Martinique tried to engineer a way back into the contest. But it was difficult to work out their shape and who was playing where on the pitch. They were on top in the first half and probably should have scored through one of Pandor or Marajo. Maybe the expectations for the host nation were too high to begin with, however, and the players could not cope. Yana Doko should really have gone two nil up towards the end as Rimane ran into space and teed up Privat, who could only hit the keeper from close range.
Martinique 0-1 French Guiana it finished at full-time. Privat’s goal in the second half made the difference and gave French Guiana third place at the expense of the hosts.
Post-match quotes below.
Martinique forward Kevin Parsemain, formerly of Seattle Sounders in MLS: “Unfortunately we did not have a lot of success in front of goal. We missed a lot of situations. We have to use this game to prepare for the Gold Cup because we did not have any big games preparing for the Caribbean Cup. We cannot think too much about the Caribbean Cup because this was a very disappointing tournament for us.” I also asked Parsemain about his situation at club level: “I tried my luck overseas, but I am 29 now and I am going to adapt myself to a new life. I will let the younger guys play [laughter].”
Florent Malouda, the playmaker for French Guiana: “The first half was difficult because our legs were a little heavy from the additional time we played on Thursday. I thought we played well and waited for the right moment. We had a substitute arrive in Sloan Privat so we knew in the second half we would have more chances. We had to be more efficient than Martinique so I am very happy with the result. The spirit in the team is very good and we are ready for the Gold Cup.” I also asked Malouda about how it feels representing his country of birth at international level having previously played for France for many years: “It is very special. I left French Guiana at 15 and before I was capped by France, I played in an unofficial friendly for French Guiana. My whole family lives in French Guiana and I got the authorisation from the French federation to play for French Guiana. It is even more important to me with what is happening in the country at the moment. So I am very happy to be back and at 37, I will be playing in my first Gold Cup after World Cups and the Euros. I am trying to help the other players believe in themselves.”
Martinique starting lineup: Olimpa, Vitulin, Cretinoir, Delem, Jean-Baptiste, Herelle, Abaul, Nedra, Pandor, Parsemain, Marajo. Manager: Jean-Marc Civault.
Subs: Audel – Parsemain. Jougon – Jean-Baptiste. Langil – Pandor. Unused: Chauvet, Zaire, Narcissot, Pastel, Louis-Jean, Angely, Dondon, Arquin.
French Guiana starting lineup: Leon, Lescot, Hugues, Fabien, Legrand, Loic Baal, Malouda, Miguel Haabo, Jules Haabo, Dutard, Evens. Manager: Jair Karam.
Subs: Privat – Miguel Haabo. Rimane – Jules Haabo. Solvi – Dutard. Unused: Petit-Homme, Lugier, Torvic, Abelinti, Edwige, Inrick Baal, Issorat, Lesperance.
Referee: Sherwin Moore (Guyana). Assistant referee 1: Ainsley Rochard (Trinidad & Tobago). Assistant referee 2: Trevor Porter (Guyana). Fourth official: Wilson DaCosta (the Bahamas). Match commissioner: Patrick Beckles (Barbados).
By Nathan Carr
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