NASHVILLE, Tennessee – Martinique is not the favorite in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
They’re not the favorites against Nicaragua on Saturday at Nissan Stadium and certainly not against Panama or the United States – its other Group B opponents -- according to head coach Jean-Marc Civault.
And that’s just fine with him.
“Small Martinique, we’re here in a big country against big nations of football in a big competition,” Civault said. “But we’re here to show we have players who are able to defend our flag, to defend the honor of the country.”
The opener against Nicaragua is of vital importance to Martinique, both in terms of having a chance to advance in the tournament and increasing the confidence of a team whose roster is almost exclusively from the Martinique Championnat National.
“We know Nicaragua is a better team than we are,” expressed Civault. “But we’re here to show our players are able to get themselves to the level that is required in this competition.”
Of course, anyone who needs a reminder about what Martinique can achieve just has to look back at its last appearance in the Gold Cup in 2013, a stunning 1-0 win over Canada in the group stage opener, when Fabrice Reuperne struck deep into second-half stoppage time.
“It’s true, we beat Canada four years ago,” Martinique captain Sebastian Cretinoir said. “Even though we are a small team, we’re here to show with the values we have, the determination and motivation we have, we can do many things. Soccer is soccer, once the game begins it’s only 11 players vs. 11 players on the pitch.”
Martinique takes the field Saturday against Nicaragua one day past the fourth anniversary of that historic win.
“Not only will be build from this energy, but in football the history has shown that there is no small team,” Civault said.