Panama will be taking on Haiti in the first match of the 2015 Gold Cup when they meet at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas in the first game of a doubleheader. The other two Group A nations, reigning champions USA and Honduras will battle it out in the second match. Neither team is in very good form as Haiti is winless in their last five outings with two draws and three defeats while Panama has a win, three losses and a draw. The last meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw in 2009. They’ve met a total of 16 times in the past with winning eight, losing three and drawing the other five.
2015 Gold Cup Betting Preview – Panama vs Haiti
- bet365 currently lists Panama as the favorites to win this match at 4/7 with Haiti 11/2 and a 90-minute draw at 13/5.
Haiti is definitely the underdog in this match and in Group A, but the side has improved under manager Marc Collat since he took over the reins last year. They’ve dropped just two games with Collat in charge and Haiti placed third at the Caribbean Cup last fall. Many of the team’s players were actually born elsewhere and there are three American-born players in the squad. In addition, just one of the side’s players makes a living with a domestic club in Haiti. The team is aiming to make it past the quarterfinal stage for the first time since 2009.
Haiti’s best players are 27-year-old Johnny Placide, 29-year-old Jean Sony Alcenat, and 23-year-old Kervens Belfort. Placide is the team’s captain and plays his soccer in France with Reims. Alcenat plays with Steaua Bucuresti on Romania and has over 50 appearances for Haiti. He’s also played four years of pro soccer in Portugal and can play both in the midfield and at right-back. However, Haiti will be relying on forward Belfort to be the offensive sparkplug. He’s currently plays for Ethnikos Achna in Cyprus and was the co-leading scorer at last year’s Caribbean Cup.
This is Haiti’s sixth Gold Cup appearance and they’ll be looking to advance from the group stage for the third time. Their best showing came back in 2002 when they topped a group that included Ecuador and Canada. However, their run came to an end when Costa Rica beat them in extra time in the quarterfinals. They finished at the bottom of their group in the 2013 Gold Cup. As for Panama, their best players are getting older as Blas Perez is now 34 while Jaime Penedo, Luis Tejada and Luis Henriquez are all 33 and Gabriel Gomez is 31. The team reached the Gold Cup Final two years ago, but were beaten 1-0 in Chicago by the host Americans.
Their best performers at the moment are forward Perez of FC Dallas, midfielder Darwin Pinzon of Sporting San Miguelito, and 23-year-old defender Harold Cummings of Santa Fe. Panama manager Hernan Dario Gomez has now managed four different CONCACAF and CONMEBOL teams and took over the Panamanian squad in 2013. Panama finished third in the 2011 tournament and were also runners up to the U.S. in 2005 when they were beaten in a penalty shootout in the Final. Five players from the 2005 team are back and 14 from the 2011 squad.