CBC Sports Online's soccer expert, John Molinaro, takes you inside the world of soccer and offers his insights about the action on the pitch and in the front office.
Don't expect another Canadian miracle at the Gold Cup
Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | 04:20 PM ET
Four years before Greece stunned the world by winning Euro 2004, Canada pulled off a minor miracle of its own when it won the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
Backed by the stellar play of goalkeeper Craig Forrest and feeding off the goals of Carlo Corazzin, Canada upset Mexico in the quarter-finals en route to winning the crown.
Don't expect a similar Canadian miracle to take place this year.
Canada enters the 2007 tournament without the least bit of momentum, sitting 94th in the current FIFA rankings, sandwiched between perennial soccer powerhouses Lithuania and Kuwait. In March, Canada plummeted to an all-time low of 103 in the monthly rankings.
The Canadian roster headed to the Gold Cup is a mix of Toronto FC stars, USL First Division players and players from overseas. The most notable European-based players on the team are veteran defender Paul Stalteri (Tottenham Hotspur, England) and creative midfielder Julian de Guzman (Deportivo la Coruna, Spain).
Noticeable by his absence is national team mainstay Jim Brennan, who turned down the Team Canada invite in order to remain at Toronto FC. Canada doesn't have a great deal of depth, especially up front, and it lacks experience, as the majority of its players don't see regular first-team action for their pro clubs.
What's more, the Canadian Soccer Association has basically written off the importance of this tournament.
During a recent conference call, CBC Sports Online asked CSA president Colin Linford why it took 11 months to name a new coach – former coach Frank Yallop quit last June – pointing out that the CONCACAF Gold Cup was just around the corner.
Did the CSA not see the Gold Cup as an opportunity to build some momentum for a national program that has been lacking in direction?
Apparently not, as Linford essentially shrugged off the importance of the CONCACAF tournament, stating qualification for the 2010 World Cup was Canada's top priority and that the CSA was putting all its eggs in that basket.
Canada will compete in Group A at the Gold Cup alongside Costa Rica (ranked No. 52), Haiti (No. 85) and Guadeloupe (unranked). The top two nations in the three opening-round groups, along with the top two third-place teams, advance to the quarter-finals.
Costa Rica should win this group with little trouble, which means Canada and Haiti will battle it out for second place (minnows Guadeloupe have little chance of drawing a game, let alone winning one).
Canada's final game of the round robin against Haiti will likely decide second place in the group. It's a contest Canada can ill afford to lose, as it would stand less of a chance of advancing as one of the third-place teams.
Even if Canada progresses from the No. 3 spot, it would likely face Mexico or the U.S. in the quarter-final, two teams that Canada has historically struggled against.
With all of this in mind, it's hard to imagine Canada advancing beyond the quarter-finals – and reaching the final eight might even qualify as a minor miracle.
This discussion is now Open. Submit your Comment.
Post a Comment
About the Author
John F. Molinaro is a reporter for CBC Sport Online whose chief love is international soccer. John served as senior editor of Sports Online's Euro 2004 website, which helped him win a CBC.ca Award of Excellence, and was the driving force behind our coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. He holds an honours BA in sociology from York University and a print journalism diploma from Sheridan College, and is also the author of The Top 100 Pro Wrestlers of All Time (Stewart House, 2002).
- Getting behind the Montreal Impact
- Tuesday, September 23, 2008
- Del Piero's wonder-goal was a stunner
- Thursday, September 18, 2008
- World Cup disaster: Canada simply isn't good enough
- Thursday, September 11, 2008
- John Carver confident he'll be back for another season
- Thursday, August 7, 2008
- FIFA should challenge IOC over Olympic call-ups
- Thursday, July 31, 2008
- Subscribe to Planet Soccer
- September 2008 (3)
- August 2008 (1)
- July 2008 (4)
- June 2008 (9)
- May 2008 (4)
- April 2008 (3)
- March 2008 (3)
- February 2008 (4)
- January 2008 (4)
- December 2007 (3)
- November 2007 (4)
- October 2007 (6)
- September 2007 (4)
- August 2007 (3)
- July 2007 (1)
- June 2007 (3)
- May 2007 (2)
- April 2007 (2)
- March 2007 (4)
- February 2007 (3)
- January 2007 (4)
- December 2006 (3)
- November 2006 (5)
- October 2006 (3)