CLEVELAND, Ohio – On a team comprised of many amateur/semi-professional players, experience and skill is vital.
Johan Audel has brought both to Martinique in the 2017 CONCACAFA Gold Cup.
The 33-year-old striker came up through the Nice system, playing professionally in France and Germany, before competing for Beitar Jerusalem in the Israeli Premier League.
“I hope he will allow Martinique to go as far as possible,” Martinique coach Jean-Marc Civault said. “I want to say it’s surprising, but we actually knew his qualities from before. I’m really satisfied with his attitude toward the local players. He’s really helpful with those players.”
According to forward Kevin Parsemain, Audel’s influence is felt both on the training ground and during games.
“Johan brings a lot of confidence to the team and it’s really helpful for the amateur players to take advantage of his rhythm, his different pace because it’s a different pace in the professional world,” he said. “He mostly brings a lot of technical confidence to the pitch.”
In addition to assisting the younger players on the team, the 33-year-old Audel has also led the team in actual assists – three to be exact, including on two of Parsemain’s three tallies.
“It’s football, sometimes you find players who can understand the way to play easier than others,” Parsemain said. “Of course, when two players have the same feeling on the field, you can maybe see it on the pitch during the game. He’s influential on the pitch and, of course, he’s offensive. We are linked on the pitch.”
Civault hopes that continues Saturday, when Martinique faces Panama in a game both teams believe they need to win to qualify for the quarterfinals. In a tight Group B, the United States and Panama have four points apiece and Martinique has three – all three teams have a plus-one goal differential.
“We’ll play 100 percent regardless. There’s no need to calculate,” Civault said. “We’ll just play the best game we can and see how it plays out. I don’t think we should be doing math right now. I just think we should be focusing on our game and make sure we can play 100 percent.”