Cuba advances to Caribbean final
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua -- Cuba narrowly defeated Haiti 1-0 on Friday in the semifinals of the Caribbean Cup, setting up a rematch of the 1999 final against Trinidad & Tobago to decide the region's champion.

In a game played at the historic Antigua Recreation Ground, the Lions of the Caribbean roared to victory thanks to a ninth minute goal from Yoel Colome Valencia. The 30-year-old defender capitalized on a mistake by Haiti goalkeeper Jhony Placide, who failed to collect the ball cleanly after a wicked shot from Marcel Hernandez.

Haiti's Leonel St. Preux led the charge in search of the equalizer; almost singlehandedly carrying the load himself. His extraordinary efforts almost paid off five minutes before the break, but he missed wide with only Cuban goalkeeper Odelin Molina to beat.

The second half proved even more frustrating for the Haitians, as they embarked on an all-out offensive against the Cuban backline. Jorge Clavelo and his fellow defenders, though, were clearly up to the task.

Jean-Philippe Peguero repeatedly tried to create chances for his strikers, but that final touch -- which helped Haiti to win its last two games in the competition by a single goal each -- went missing on the night.

The Cubans defended bravely and, when necessary, they generated offense through Alberto Gomez, Yaudel Lahera and Hernandez.

Gomez perhaps had the best opportunity in the 75th minute. After winning the ball in the midfield, he raced towards goal, only to stumble in the six-yard box before getting off a shot.

On Sunday, Cuba -- which has never won the Caribbean Cup -- will meet eight-time champion Trinidad at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, for the region's title. Haiti will face Martinique in the match for third place the same day.