Haiti relishing Brazil meeting in Copa America

Orlando (AFP) – Brazil’s national team has a special place in the hearts of many football fans around the world but few places treasure the ‘Selecao’ as much as Haiti and on Wednesday the pair will meet for the first time in a competitive game, World Soccer Talk reported.

The Copa America Centenario match at the Citrus Bowl will be in many ways the biggest game for the French-speaking Caribbean nation since their only appearance at the World Cup in West Germany in 1974.

What makes the encounter particularly special is the relationship between Haitian fans and Brazilian football, which goes well beyond simple admiration of the style and success of the South American nation.

Haiti midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre said that the intensity of the admiration for Brazil increased after the 2004 ‘Jogo da Paz’, or ‘Game of Peace’ in Port-Au-Prince.

Brazilian soldiers with a key role in the United Nations Stabilisation Force in the troubled country, were joined by their national team in a game designed to help the efforts to bring about a reduction in violence.Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos were among the players who took place in the game.

“The deal was that you handed in a gun in return for a ticket to the game. They collected barrels of guns,” said Alexandre.

“Ronaldo told me that the experience he had in Haiti was one of the most memorable games he took part in. The team bus could not move, it was surrounded by fans,” he said.

“It was world class of Brazil to go and do that. We will remember that for rest of our life and in my opinion it should be seen as part of the history of football,” he said.

Haiti faces challenge against mighty Brazil

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Haitian defender Jean Marc Alexandre knows his team faces a major challenge against Brazil in the Copa America.

Haiti is No. 74 in the FIFA world rankings while Brazil is No. 7. Haiti has played in just one World Cup, while Brazil has won soccer’s premier event five times.

Haiti and Brazil meet on Wednesday night in their second Group B matches with each team looking for its first win.

“Brazil is a powerhouse, maybe the most powerful football nation in the world,” Alexandre said Tuesday. “It is an honor for us to be on the same field with them.”

Brazil earned a point in Group B play after a scoreless draw against Ecuador in its first match. The Brazilians dominated most of the match, but couldn’t finish their opportunities. They are wary of the same thing happening against the Haitians.

“The reality is that we have to respect our opponent and realize we’re not getting anything for free,” Brazilian defender Marquinhos said. “We had many good things come out of the game against Ecuador, but we can’t be crazy about how we do things. We have to score.”

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