HAITI’s first match pitted the small Caribbean island taking on the might of Europe (Italy). Italy were winners of the second World Cup played in 1934 and runners-up in the 1970 Finals against the thePele led Brazilian champion team. HAITI on paper were no match for the experienced Italians. Likewise on paper, Haile Selassie was no match for Mussolini.
The opening match against HAITI was the legendary Italian goalkeeper Dino Zoff’s 32nd birthday. A minute into the second half after 1,142 minutes or 19 hours and 2 minutes, the Italian net bulged. Haitian Emmanuel SANON claimed his place in World Cup history and in the hearts of millions of Haitian fans by giving HAITI the lead against the legendary Italian goal keeper. The Italians had not conceded in any friendlies and did not concede a single goal in Bthe six matches of the qualifying tournament. Going into the tournament, it was 1,096 minutes since Zoff had last been beaten.
SANON, a powerfully built and spiritedly aggressive forward from Port au Prince did what some of the greatest players had failed to do in Zoff’s 12 previous games for Italy. According to SANON, “with my pace, you can’t leave me with just one defender but that is what happened. I was one-on-one with Spinosi. I received a pass from Phillipe Vorbe. I beat the defender with my speed. One-on-one with Dino Zoff, I dummied to go left, and then went right. I rounded him, and rolled the ball into the net”.
In four years, SANON scored 47 of the 106 goals scored by the Haitian national team.SANON went on to a successful career with Beershcoot of Antwerp in Belgium. After7 years in Antwerp and 16 in the USA,MANNO returned to live in HAITI to help(as a trainer) in the revitalization of Haitian football.