Violette from Haiti makes history, overcomes all odds and eliminates Austin FC in the Concachampions Round of 16
For the Concachampions, Violette overcame visa denials and only three players on the bench, to reach the quarterfinals of the competition.
Violette is a traditional club in Haiti, which has 7 national titles, being the third largest champion in the country. Since the 1960s, it usually played for the Concachampions, and despite early eliminations, it was champion in 1984. At the time, the continental competition was divided into two zones, the Caribbean and Central and North America, so the champions of each area faced each other in the decision.
Violette was the Caribbean champion and, as there was no consensus on dates for the final in the other zone, between New York Pancyprian-Freedoms and Chivas Guadalajara, the Haitians were declared champions.
Despite the continental title in 1984, Violette had not participated in the tournament since 1994. However, with the national title in 2021, it participated in the Caribbean Club Championship after 13 years, and won. Thus winning the vacancy for Concachampions 2023.
First leg in Dominican Republic (Violette 3×0 Austin FC)
Even before the confrontation, the problems for the Haitian time were present. The club had not played an official match for 290 days, as football was paralyzed in the country because of the violence rates, with gang control in urban centers in their country and could not even send their game against Austin FC at home. Therefore, the match was relocated to Santiago de los Caballeros in the Dominican Republic, a country bordering Haiti.
On the pitch, the main highlight of the match was Violette’s striker Miche-Naider Chéry, who opened the scoring with a header in the 13th minute and doubled the score in the 39th minute, with another goal from above. Right at the beginning of the second half, Miche-Naider Chéry did not score the hat-trick, as the opposing goalkeeper operated a miracle, however, in the rebound, defender Amro Tarek scored an unbelievable own goal.
Despite pressure from Austin FC during the second phase, the Haitians held up well and took the 3×0 result to the definition in the United States.
Denied visas and overcoming (Austin FC 2 x 0 Violette)
In the return game, fears set in, as only 12 Violette players managed to get visas to enter the United States. Therefore, the club had to resort to last-minute signings of athletes active in the US amateur leagues, who could be registered with Concacaf.
Thus, only six starters in the first leg were repeated in the second leg, among them captain Steeven Saba and top scorer Miche-Naider Chéry, as well as the four men in defense and on the bench, only three players. Austin FC, in turn, entered with maximum force to try to reverse the result.
With the stadium full, the Texans had 71% possession, with 18 completions during the first half. It was a real bombardment, but with very little aim, as only five shots hit the goal. In the 24th minute, Austin FC had a goal disallowed by VAR, due to a handball.
In the second stage, Austin’s first goal came early, 51 minutes, Rigoni crossed and Driussi hit it beautifully. The Texans expanded to 63 minutes, with another goal from Driussi, now in a bizarre failure by the goalkeeper Paul Decius.
When everyone thought Violette would give herself away on the field, they outdid themselves. Austin FC had 35 shots with 10 on target and in the last shot of the game, in the 101st minute, goalkeeper Paul Decius was not shaken by his mistake, he operated a true miracle in the shot from close range by Driussi.
With the final whistle, the Haitian team went against everything and everyone, managing to qualify for the quarterfinals of the Concachampions.
Written by Henry Miller.