A trying week for Canadian soccer as women, men and youth lose

By RON FANFAIR

Canadian soccer has endured another trying week. The local side failed to qualify for the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Under-20 tournament which will be held in Egypt later this year and the senior women’s side could not retain the Cyprus Cup. In addition, the men’s senior team plummeted 22 spots in the latest FIFA rankings.

All of that happened over the last seven days.

With a new coach at the helm, Canada succumbed to England 3-1 in the Cyprus Cup championship game last Thursday. The English girls netted three goals in a 15-minute span after Christine Sinclair’s 14th minute goal – her 99th overall – boosted the Canadian team to an early lead.

“Today, we lost but we have to be proud of the performance,” said coach Carolina Morace who replaced Even Pellerud. “For us, it is a start. This team has great potential. Of course, we are not happy that we have lost. I think the players understand that we can do more.

“After being together for only one month, our results at this tournament have been excellent. The players have improved match by match. They understand what we expect from them and that is important.”

Canada finished second in the eight-team tournament after holding New Zealand to a 1-1 draw and defeating The Netherlands 2-1 and Russia 2-0.

The national side’s next international encounter is a friendly against Japan on May 25 at the BMO Field in Toronto.

Canada failed to qualify for the FIFA Under-20 tournament for a fifth straight time after succumbing to Costa Rica 2-1 in the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association of Football (CONCACAF) qualifying tournament in Trinidad.

The Canadians bounced back from a disappointing 1-0 loss to Trinidad & Tobago to shut out Mexico 2-0 – Ghanaian-born Randy Edwini-Bonsu scored both goals in the final 15 minutes – and set up the decisive meeting with the Costa Ricans who, along with T & T, the United States and Honduras, will represent the region at the FIFA Under-20 championship in Egypt from September 24-October 16.

The other contestants in the 24-field tournament are Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela, Australia, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Oceania and host nation Egypt.

The national men’s team, which is preparing for the Gold Cup in July, held its position as the eighth-ranked CONCACAF team, but lost 22 points in the latest FIFA rankings. Canada is ranked 94th in the world soccer ratings.

The regional Gold Cup series will take place in a record 13 American cities – it’s twice more than the number previously used for the continental championship – from July 3-26.

“By expanding the Gold Cup to 13 venues, it will give fans more opportunity to experience the championship in person,” said CONCACAF president, Austin “Jack” Warner.

The games will be played in Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, Ohio, Washington, Houston, Miami, Boston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Dallas, Chicago and New York.

FINANCIAL BOOST

Trinidad & Tobago men’s soccer squad has received a huge financial boost in its quest to return to the World Cup for a second straight time.

Four local companies – Carib Brewery, First Citizens Bank, Kentucky Fried Chicken and the Telecommunications Services of Trinidad & Tobago – have chipped in with TT$3.3 million to help the national side prepare for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

“At the end of the day, this campaign will do much more than create a nation of Soca Warriors fans rooting for the home team, but also create that crucial sense of belonging to a special place, a home, a T & T, ” said Warner, who is also a FIFA vice-president.

Carib Brewery Sponsorship and events manager, Colin Murray, expressed the hope that the cash injection will inspire local fans to sound the battle cry and summon the largest gathering of support for soccer in the twin-island republic.

“We believed four years ago when we became the smallest nation to qualify for the World Cup finals in Germany and we are proud to say that we have not stopped believing as we vie for a place in South Africa,” said Murray.

T & T is currently competing in the final round of regional World Cup qualifiers to determine the CONCACAF teams that will advance to the World Cup finals.

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