By RON FANFAIR
Veteran defender Candace Chapman is among eight players with Pan Am Games experience selected to represent Canada at soccer in next month’s 16th quadrennial multi-sport championships in Guadalajara, Mexico. The group also includes striker Christine Sinclair who in 2007 led the team with eight goals in six matches.
Canada, which defeated Mexico 2-1 to win a bronze medal four years ago in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will have newly-hired New Zealand-born coach John Herdman in the fold for the Games that run from October 18-27.
The national side faces Costa Rica, Argentina and Brazil in the opening round. The top two teams from each group advance to the semi-finals on October 25.
Nigeria, meanwhile, has been drawn with Algeria, Senegal and Morocco in Group “B” of the Olympic qualifying tournament for African men teams. Group “A” comprises South Africa, Gabon, Ivory Coast and Egypt.
The eight-nation tournament, which is also the African Under-23 championship, kicks off in Egypt on November 23. The top three teams will qualify for the Olympics while the fourth-placed side faces a play-off against an Asian team.
Nigeria was the first African team to win gold in the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta. Cameroon achieved the feat four years later in Sydney.
And, the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) is urging Zimbabwe’s soccer authorities to take strong action against players and officials found guilty of match-fixing. A Zimbabwe Soccer Association investigation revealed that players were paid to lose matches during team tours of Asia between 2007 and 2009.
“I look forward to good strong penalties that reflect the magnitude of the offences,” said FIFA security chief Chris Eaton. “FIFA wants to see consequences that match the offences.”