Surprise win keeps Haiti in the frame

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The Independent Online

Florida's largest city is famous for its immigrant Cuban population, but as well as its Little Havana district Miami also has Little Haiti. On Sunday night it was party time in that run-down inner-city area, as the locals celebrated probably the best result in Haiti's international football history.

Florida's largest city is famous for its immigrant Cuban population, but as well as its Little Havana district Miami also has Little Haiti. On Sunday night it was party time in that run-down inner-city area, as the locals celebrated probably the best result in Haiti's international football history.

Ecuador, on their way to the World Cup finals this summer, were surprisingly beaten 2-0 by Haiti in the Orange Bowl in the first round of the Gold Cup.

Having lost 2-0 to the holders, Canada, in their first game here on Friday, Haiti were expected to go down to Ecuador and finish bottom of their three-team group. Now they have a strong chance of progressing to this weekend's quarter-finals. "This was a great achievement, and I don't think most of us have realised we have won yet," said the Haiti defender Gilbert Jean-Baptiste. "We will never forget this win."

Haiti have only once reached the World Cup finals, in 1974 in West Germany, and watching on proudly from the press box on Sunday was Emmanuel Sanon, who scored against Dino Zoff to give his country a shock lead in the first round in Munich before they fell away to lose 3-1.

Canada will qualify for the last four if they avoid a 2-0 defeat or worse against Ecuador here tonight. They used the Hearts defender Kevin McKenna as an emergency striker to good effect on Friday, when he scored both goals against Haiti.

The other Gold Cup venue is Pasadena, California, where the United States kicked off with a 2-1 win over South Korea on Saturday. The final will be there in the Rose Bowl on 2 February.

With its profusion of Latin American immigrants, Florida might seem like ideal territory for Major League Soccer. Not so – the United States' six-year-old national league announced this month that it was contracting from 12 teams to 10, and it was the two Florida clubs in MLS, Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny, who found themselves out of business.

MLS is believed to have lost over $250m (£17.3m) since its inception. The Fusion's owner, Ken Horowitz, has lost about $40m since he bought the team in 1997.

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