Canada’s Under-20 women in sight of World Cup

By RON FANFAIR

Canada will tackle Mexico in the semi-final of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Football (CONCACAF) Under-20 women’s tournament in Guatemala today.

The national side finished at the top of its group with a 3-1 win over the host country, a 2-0 victory over Cuba and a 1-0 win over Costa Rica.

The United States, which also won all its group matches, will oppose Costa Rica in the other semi-final. The Americans beat Mexico 2-1 and shut out Caribbean teams Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica 4-0 and 6-0 respectively.

T & T squeezed past Jamaica 1-0 last Sunday for its only victory while the Reggae Girls were winless.

The top three teams in this tournament will advance to the fifth FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Germany in July. A total of 16 teams will contest the competition. Canada has appeared in the previous four tournaments.

And, West African soccer rivals Nigeria and Ghana will meet today in the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup tournament in Angola.

Two-time winner Nigeria, which last won the competition 16 years ago, defeated Zambia 5-4 on penalty kicks after the two teams failed to produce a goal in regulation and extra-time. The Nigerians were reduced to 10 men in extra time when Onyekachi Apam received his second yellow card.

“I just thank God,” said Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama after the quarter-final contest. “It was a crazy game and a difficult one for us. They are a very good team.”

Ghana, which won the last of its four championships in 1982, advanced with a 1-0 win over host country Angola. Asamoha Gyan scored the lone goal in the 16th minute.

The other semi-final will bring together six-time winner and defending champions Egypt and Algeria in a rematch of their tense and controversial World Cup play-off last November which saw the Algerians advance to this year’s global final in South Africa.

Egyptian captain Ahmad Hassan, who was making an African record 170th appearance, scored twice and netted Cameroon’s lone goal with a misguided own goal header.

“This is a very important win for the Egyptian team and all Egyptians,” he said.

Egypt is the only team to have won all of its matches so far in the 16-team tournament.

Algeria scored in extra-time to bounce Ivory Coast 2-1 in their quarter-final.

African soccer federation boss Issa Hayatou, meanwhile, is opposed to playing the competition every four years. Europe’s top clubs, which are forced to release their players in the middle of their season, have been lobbying for the change from two to four years.

Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will co-host the next tournament in 2012.

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