Canada booked its ticket to next year’s International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Women’s World Cup with an impressive 4-0 victory over Costa Rica in the semi-finals of the regional Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) qualifying competition last Friday night in Mexico.
Josee Belanger, Jonelle Filigno and Christine Sinclair netted three goals in a 13-minute span in the second-half while Costa Rican defender Daniela Cruz’s own goal in extra time sealed the shut out.
“We’re really thrilled and excited,” Filigno said after the contest. “We expected it, but knew it would be a big challenge to get here. We were a little down at half-time, but picked it up in the second half.”
The national side completed a highly successful run in the tournament, defeating Mexico 1-0 in last Monday’s final.
It was the fifth straight shut out for the Canadians who outscored their opponents 17-0. They also beat Trinidad & Tobago 1-0, Guyana 8-0 and Mexico 3-0 in the group stage to finish at the top.
The Americans, who did not concede a goal while registering 18 in the group stage against Haiti, Guatemala and Costa Rica, were upset 2-1 by host country Mexico in the other semi-final. It was the Mexicans first win in 26 meetings over the two-time world champions and the Americans first loss in the CONCACAF championship.
Canada will be making its fifth straight appearance in the World Cup after taking part in China two years ago, the United States in 2003 and 1999 and Sweden in 1995. This country’s best finish was fourth place seven years ago.
The sixth quadrennial championship takes place in Germany from June 26 to July 17, 2011.
The countries that have qualified so far for the 16-team World Cup are Canada, Mexico, England, Sweden, France, Norway, New Zealand, Australia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan and host country Germany which won the last two finals.
The draw will be held on November 29.
Canadian defender Candace Chapman reached a milestone in the CONCACAF tournament last week with her 75th appearance. The centre-back, who has been a member of the national senior team since March 2002 when she debuted as an 18-year-old in a victory over Scotland, is the 14th player to attain the landmark.
The Ajax resident and University of Notre Dame graduate turned out for Canada in the last World Cup in China, the Beijing Olympics two years ago, three CONCACAF qualifying tournaments and the 2007 Pan American Games. She was also a member of the national side that secured a silver medal in the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup eight years ago.
Trinidad & Tobago-born Chapman, who won a W-League title with the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2006, is a member of FC Gold Pride which captured the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer League crown last month after finishing at the bottom of the standings and failing to make the play-offs a year ago.
Current teammates with more appearances than Chapman are strikers Christine Sinclair with a national record 144 and Brittany Timko, midfielders Kara Lang, Diana Matheson and Rhian Wilkinson and goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc who was born in Atlanta to a Dominican father and Jamaican mother.
Guyanese-born forward Charmaine Hooper became the first Canadian woman to win 100 caps in 2003. She retired four years ago after 130 appearances.