Even by Concacaf standards, this is a new one.
Haiti's U-23 men's national team was forced to start with 10 men and a field player in goal for its Olympic qualifying opener against Honduras in Mexico on Friday due to a late-arriving segment of its delegation that couldn't be tested for COVID-19 in time to be cleared.
That left defender Odilon Jerome in goal and his teammates a man down from the opening whistle while playing in the heat and altitude of Guadalajara. On the plus side, none of the delegation's tests that were able to be conducted on time came back positive, and Haiti, in the 22nd minute, was able to introduce its actual goalkeeper, Alan Jerome, whose negative test reportedly registered after play had started. Midfielder Eliader Dorlus was also able to enter the match after he was cleared, giving Haiti the odd distinction of ending the match with more players than it started.
"In the case of Haiti, part of their delegation arrived in Guadalajara, Mexico, too late to conduct testing prior to today’s match, therefore only those players and officials who complied with the competition’s testing regime will participate in the game," Concacaf wrote in its briefing from Guadalajara on Friday.
During his cameo in goal, Odilon Jerome came close to making an early save on a penalty kick, only to have Darixon Vuelto roll his early chance underneath the makeshift keeper.
Haiti and Honduras are in a group with El Salvador and Canada, with the top two finishers in the group advancing to the semifinals of the competition. The semifinal winners claim Concacaf's two berths in the Tokyo Olympics. Haiti has never qualified for an Olympics, and the circumstances of its opener make it quite difficult to change that this time around. All things considered, a 3-0 defeat Friday is a commendable result.
The USA and Mexico each won its opener on Thursday in the competition's other group, beating Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, respectively, to run out to an early lead in the quest to reach the semis. They won't play until the final game of the group stage, and if each wins its second match, then the finale will be for semifinal seeding only, with Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic already eliminated.