Candace Chapman will always remember her 100th appearance for Canada’s women soccer team. The Trinidad & Tobago-born defender’s milestone coincided with the national side’s qualification for this summer’s London Olympics.
Chapman, who made her debut as an 18-year-old a decade ago, is the ninth Canadian to reach the landmark. She has representedCanadaat the International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cups inChinain 2007 andGermanyfour years later, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, two Pan American Games and the FIFA Under-20 World Cup inCanadain 2002.
In the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) qualifying tournament in Vancouver, Canada shut out Haiti and Cuba 6-0 and 3-0 respectively, overpowered Costa Rica 5-1 and beat Mexico 3-1 in the semi-finals to book a place at the Olympics to be held from July 26 to August 11.
Canadalost 4-0 to three-time Olympics winner theUnited States– the other regional representative in this summer’s Games – in the CONCACAF qualifying final.
In addition toCanadaand theUSA, the other qualifiers so far areJapan, the Democratic People’sRepublicofKorea,Cameroon,South Africa,France,Sweden,Brazil,Colombiaand host countryEngland.
Canada, meanwhile, will play the United States men’s team in June in Toronto as part of the Canadian Soccer Association’s 100th anniversary celebrations. The Americans last played inCanadain 1997 inBurnaby, British Colombia.
The national side will also faceHondurason June 12,Panamaon September 7 andCubaon October 12 at BMO Field in International Soccer Federation (FIFA) World Cup qualifiers.
Canada plays six matches this year in the third round of CONCACAF qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup inBrazil. The away matches take place on June 8 inCuba, September 11 inPanamaand October 16 inHonduras. The top two sides from the four-team group will advance to the next round in 2013.
“This is a crucial season for our team as we continue towards our goal of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup,” said national coach Stephen Hart. “We will need the full support of the Canadian soccer community as we work towards the collective goal of reaching a FIFA World Cup.”
Ranked 74th in the world, Canada has appeared once in the World Cup in 1986.
And, three West African teams are in the African Cup of Nations Final Four.
In last weekend’s quarter-finals, 1992 winnersIvory Coastshut outEquatorial Guinea3-0,GhanadefeatedTunisia2-1,ZambiademolishedSudan3-0 andMalibeatGabon5-4 on penalty kicks after the two teams were tied 1-1 at the end of extra time.
In other soccer news, Jamaica Soccer Federation president, Horace Burrell, has been appointed to the FIFA committee organizing Olympic tournaments just three weeks after completing a suspension for unethical behaviour.
He was banned from the sport for three months following a widespread investigation into alleged bribery by FIFA presidential candidate Mohamed bin Hammam and vice-president Austin “Jack” Warner. Burrell, who is also a Jamaica Olympic Association vice-president, had another three-month sanction deferred for a two-year probationary period.
By RON FANFAIR