By RON FANFAIR
Canada begins its march to this summer’s London Olympics in the regional Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) qualifier that starts tonight in Vancouver.
The national side meets Haiti in the second match of a double header. Kick-off is at 10:30 p.m. local time. Canada opposes Cuba on Saturday and Costa Rica in its final group contest on January 23.
The other group comprises the Dominican Republic, the United States, Mexico and Guatemala.
The semi-finals take place on January 27 and the final two days later. The finalists in the eight-team tournament will advance to the Olympics.
National coach, John Herdman, plans to use his full roster during the 10-day tournament to ensure he has fresh legs for the semi-finals and final if his team advances.
“We can’t go gung-ho finishing top of the group, putting a show on by trying to score seven or eight goals every game,” he said. “We have to preserve the team so key players are absolutely optimal by the time Game 4 (the semi-final) comes around.”
Canada, meanwhile, has been drawn in Group “A” with Mexico, Jamaica and Haiti for the first round of the CONCACAF Under-20 women’s championship to be played in Panama City March 1-11.
Group “B” comprises the United States, Panama, Guatemala and Cuba.
The semi-finals will be held on March 9 and the final two days later.
The top three teams will qualify for the Under-20 World Cup which Japan has offered to host after Uzbekistan – which was awarded the tournament – withdrew because of “logistical and technical” issues.
■ And, several Caribbean soccer administrators have been appointed to head Caribbean Soccer Union committees.
Grenada Soccer Association president, Cheney Joseph, heads the finance committee, Bermuda Soccer Association head, Larry Mussenden, is in charge of the legal committee that includes Jamaica Soccer Federation general secretary Horace Reid and Cuban Soccer Association boss, Luis Hernandez, spearheads the soccer committee.