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GOLD CUP 

5/6/2007 - 21:02(EST)

Haiti opens against Guadeloupe

Haiti will feel very much at home when they open against Guadeloupe on Wednesday in a duel of Caribbean teams for the Gold Cup.

05/JUN/07 - In the Miami Orange Bowl, Haiti will have many Haitians backing the team. There are a lot of Haitians in South Florida.

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Haiti makes their Gold Cup debut after having won their first Caribbean Cup last January under Cuban coach Luis Amelio García.

The preparation games for the tournament were positive for Haiti, with wins over Panama, El Salvador, and Honduras in friendlies. They also tied with Chile.

Defender, Jean-Jacques Pierre of French side Nantes, is Haiti’s main player.

Guadeloupe is a mystery among the 12 teams in the tournament. The Gold Cup will be their debut for any international cups.

They are a small Caribbean archipelago whose population does not surpass the half million people. They are not a member of FIFA because they are technically part of France. This is why they are able to compete in regional competitions.

The Gold Cup champion will earn a berth to the Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. Guadaloupe, however, cannot represent the CONCACAF if they win the Gold Cup.

Costa Rica and Canada, the other Group A rivals that will open the Gold Cup, should not underestimate Guadeloupe since they have exported many players to the French league and national team.

The best example of this was that seven players of the French national team that participated in last year’s World Cup had some kind of tie to Guadeloupe, including start striker Thierry Henry.

Their most famous player in this tournament is Jocelyn Angloma, who at 41 years of age is the oldest player in the tournament.

Angloma, the ex Valencia (Spain) and Inter Milan (Italy), is a defender that played 37 games with the French national team, but last year he decided to help his country of birth.

The game is set to start at 9 p.m. EST.

Terra/AP