By RON FANFAIR
The year 2015 is shaping up to be a big one for sport in Canada.
Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe region will host the Pan Am/Parapan Games and Canada is the front-runner to host the 2015 women’s World Cup should Zimbabwe be the only other country to bid for the tournament by the February 11 deadline.
The successful bidder will also earn the right to host the 2014 Under-20 women’s event.
The Zimbabwe soccer association has faced myriad administrative problems recently and allegations of match fixing have been made against the national team. In addition, 12 people died in a stampede after police fired tear gas at bottle-throwing fans during a World Cup qualifier between South Africa and Zimbabwe in Harare in July 2000.
Canada is ranked ninth in the world while Zimbabwe, which has never qualified for a women’s World Cup competition, is ranked 103rd.
The next women’s World Cup takes place in Germany in June.
And, Ghana and Tunisia have submitted bids for the right to host a number of tournaments.
Ghana is bidding for the Under-17 World Cup in 2013 and the Under-17 women’s tournament in 2014 while Tunisia is interested in staging the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in 2015.
The International Soccer Federation’s (FIFA) executive committee will announce the winners at its March 2-3 meeting.
And Ghana has a new coach. He is former Partizan Belgrade coach, Goran Stevanovic, who replaced fellow Serb Milovan Rajevac. He has pledged to deliver the West African country its first Nations Cup since 1982.
Ghana reached the quarter-finals of last year’s World Cup in South Africa and the finals of the last African Cup of Nations.
“I am motivated,” said the 44-year-old Stevanovic who signed a two-year deal. “I will speak with key players and I am sure they agree with me that we are going to be champions.
The new coach’s first competitive game in charge will be a 2012 Nations Cup qualifier in March against Congo in Brazzaville.
“It’s big pressure, but it’s normal,” he said shortly after being introduced as the coach. “The national team of Ghana has been doing well. I know what’s expected of me in the future and I am prepared for that.”
Meanwhile, Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Congo and the Ivory Coast will be Africa’s representatives in the Under-17 World Cup in Mexico from June 18 to July 10. They booked their spots after reaching the semi-finals of the African Under-17 championship in Rwanda.
Burkina Faso won the regional tournament, defeating Rwanda 2-1 in last Saturday’s final.