The game was already a disaster for Canada before stoppage time, with Martinique — sometimes pronounced by its full name: not even a FIFA member, Martinique — dominating one of the Gold Cup’s three automatic entrants. Though Canada were keeping more of the ball, they were also on their way to being outshot 27-8 by the French island’s team.
Then came stoppage time, when 37-year-old Fabrice Reuperné launched a rocket from 25 yards, one that may have doomed Canada’s chances of being one of the eight teams that advance from the 12-nation opening round. Just before the 93-minute mark, a left-footed volley of a clearance bounding out of the Canadian area gave goalkeeper Milan Borjan no chance to prevent a shocking opener to this year’s Gold Cup:
Martinique may have only have a population of around 403,000, but nine of their squad’s 23 players make their living off the island, playing in leagues such as France’s Ligue 1 (Kévin Olimpia), Ligue 2 (Olivier Thomert), Spain’s Segunda Division (Jean-Sylvain Babin, Grégory Arnolin), England’s League One (Yoann Arquin), and Major League Soccer (Frédéric Piquionne). While that doesn’t necessarily make them a great side, it does speak to the implied notion that something named Martinique can’t field a decent squad.
All the same, Canada didn’t just lose to Martinique. This wasn’t an against the run of play, one-off goal that made the final score uncharacteristic of how the game was played. The Canadians were decidedly second best, a humbling experience for a team that, while having struggled in recent World Cup qualifying campaigns, has a paved road into this competition.
Compounding the embarrassment: This result puts Canada on track to finish last in Group A. Without an upset over Mexico or Panama, Canada’s going home after three games, with a history set to reflect they not only lost to Martinique, they finished behind them in Group Play.