By RON FANFAIR
Canada is primed to advance to the next round of the World Cup soccer qualifying tournament despite being held to a goalless draw by Puerto Rico at BMO Field.
Just four days after trouncing St. Lucia 7-0 on the road, the national side put up a listless showing against a team they shut out 3-0 in their own backyard early last month.
National coach Stephen Hart was disappointed with the outcome.
“We couldn’t find the answer tonight,” he said. “Puerto Rico parked the bus, allowed us to have the ball and waited for us to attack. We played too slow and when we did get our opportunities, we just failed to take them. It’s a real disappointment.”
With the draw, the 145th-ranked Puerto Rico was eliminated from the qualifying series while Canada, ranked 87th, will meet St. Kitts & Nevis next month for the right to move on to the next stage.
St. Kitts & Nevis host the Canadians on November 11 before the return fixture four days later at BMO Field.
Panama, meanwhile, booked its passage to the semi-final stage group with a 5-1 win over Nicaragua while Trinidad and Tobago rebounded from a shock loss to Bermuda to defeat Barbados 4-0 and send them packing without a point or a goal in four matches.
Guyana and T & T will battle for the right to advance to the next round. The Guyanese are a point ahead of the twin-island republic after holding home side Bermuda to a 1-1 draw.
Antigua & Barbuda soared to first place in its group with a convincing 10-0 victory over the U.S. Virgin Islands.
FIFA levies fines, suspensions
Jamaica Soccer Federation president, Horace Burrell, is among four Caribbean officials banned from the sport for their part in a cash-for-votes scandal in the run-up to this year’s FIFA presidential election.
A long-time ally of former FIFA vice-president, Jack Warner, and a member of FIFA’s disciplinary committee, Burrell was banned for six months. This means he must now withdraw from the Caribbean Football Union presidential election scheduled for next month.
Fellow Jamaican, Ralph James and Trinidadian Harold Taylor, will contest the presidency in Jamaica.
British Virgin Islands soccer association president, Franka Pickering, was banned for 18 months and fined £355 while Dominican Republic president, Osiris Guzman and St. Vincent & the Grenadines general secretary, Ian Hypolite, were suspended for 30 days and fined.
Aubrey Liburd of the British Virgin Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands president, Hillaren Frederick, were reprimanded and fined while St. Kitts & Nevis president, Anthony Jones, was reprimanded.
Barbadians David Hinds and Mark Forde, Trinidadian Richard Groden and Jamaica Soccer Federation general secretary, Horace Reid, received warnings.