Olympic soccer berth on the line as Canada's women in do-or-die semifinal against Mexico Friday
Canada’s women’s soccer team is exactly where everyone thought it would be after its first three games of the group stage at the CONCACAF women’s Olympic qualifying tournament here in Vancouver: poised to claim a berth in this summer’s London games with a victory Friday over Mexico.
After outscoring their opponents 13-1 in the first three Group A games (shutting out Cuba and Haiti, with Costa Rica notching the only goal against), Canada faces Group B’s Mexico in a do-or-die semifinal match Friday night (8 p.m.) at B.C. Place Stadium.
(The U.S., winners of Group B after a 4-0 rout of Mexico Tuesday night, will meet Costa Rica at 5 p.m. Friday to decide the second Olympic qualifier. Tickets are good for both semifinal games.)
Historically, Mexico has won only one game (to go along with one draw) against our women’s team in 18 attempts, with that lone victory coming in 2004.
More than 7,000 loud fans, many of them Mexico supporters, came out for Tuesday’s game aginst the U.S., and Canada drew over 12,000 for last weekend’s relatively low-profile 2-0 Cuba clash, so a crucial Friday-night match-up seems poised to deliver a boisterous crowd to the renovated B.C. Place.
The rough-and-ready Southsiders have had an unmistakable presence at these qualifiers so far, and the spirited commotion of the Vancouver Whitecaps’ die-hard supporters should be more than a match for the Mexicans’ local backers.
Canada, ranked seventh in the world, is especially anxious to redeem itself after last summer’s disappointing showing at the World Cup in Germany, where the national team lost all three of its matches, scoring only one goal and allowing seven. Only Equatorial Guinea, of all four groups, had a record as bad as Canada’s (although it managed to double the goal output).