Guyana Undefeated streak intact
Guyana men’s national team under head coach Jamal Shabazz former national coach of the T&T women team has secured a spot into the 2007 Digicel Caribbean Cup final with a convincing 4-0 win over the Dominican Republic to clinch first place in Group H. The win also extended Guyana’s undefeated streak to 14 international matches dating back to the 2004 World Cup preliminary round.
Guadeloupe clinched second place in Group H and also secured a spot into the Digicel Cup after a 3-1 win over Antigua & Barbuda to finish with a 2-1-0 record for 6 points. Guyana and Guadeloupe will now join Martinique, St. Vincent & The Grenadines, Barbados, Cuba and the host Trinidad & Tobago to compete in the Final Round of the 2007 Digicel Caribbean Cup scheduled for January.
The 8 and final team will derive from winner of the best third place finishers and four out of the eight will qualify to the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup that is scheduled for June 6-24 in cities across the USA.
Canada’s women soccer team suffered a heartbreaking loss to USA on a penalty kick called in the dying seconds of the second half of overtime. The game was played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California and the infraction occurred when Canada’s #18- Robyn Gayle, attempt to screen out a USA player. Canada entered the game having secured a spot at the women World Cup 2007 in China after defeating Jamaica 4-0 in the semi final days earlier.
Unlike the Jamaica game Canada fell behind early. USA took a 1-0 lead against the run of play on a goal scored by Leslie Osborne from a rebound. Canada showed character and returned the favor in the 40th minute after midfielder Randee Hermus pounced on a rebound and unleashed a left foot half volley into the roof of the USA net.
The second half saw USA in total command but not exactly in control. As a result time expired in regulation play with the score still tied to send the game into overtime.
Overtime usually spells p-r-e-s-s-u-r-e for the favorite team and in this game it looked no different. The pressure was clearly on USA to get a score before the introduction of the dreaded penalty kicks. The arrival of penalty kicks means that the ego of favored team can be broken and in that light, the underdog’s chances are better.
USA, desperate to end the game was moving forward with everything in attack which opened up their defensive coverage somewhat, and Canada’s striker Christine Sinclair shot wide from a golden opportunity to score. On the other end of the field Canada’s goalkeeper Erin McLeod was kept busy and responded well with some brilliant saves that kept Canada in the game.
With no ticks left on the clock USA made a long throw into the Canadian 6 yard box that created the untimely penalty that was scored by USA striker Christine Lilly. As a result USA defeated Canada 2-1 to win the Gold Cup 2006.
Canada and USA women team advance to the World Cup 2007 in China while third place Mexico will play Japan in a home and away series to advance. The Mexicans clinched third spot by eliminating Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago by the same score of 3-0.
Canada women’s soccer team lead by captain Christine Sinclair two goals, secured a spot at the women World Cup 2007 in China. They defeated Jamaica 4-0 in the first semi final of the CONCACAF Gold Cup played at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California and will meet the winner of the Mexico versus USA on Sunday. Jamaica will have to wait to play the loser of the next semi final for the third spot to face Japan (from the Asian Football Confederation) in a home-and-away playoff for the final berth in the FIFA tournament.
Christine Sinclair led the Canadian attack with two goals in the 40th and 70th minute while Rhian Wilkinson and Melanie Booth both scored in the 51st and 88th minute respectively. Although Canada had defeated Jamaica four times previously (with a goal differential of 31:0), this game was anticipated to be a close encounter by the recent showing of the Jamaica defense.
The Jamaica women started well but as the game progressed Canada shut down their early advances and systematically took control of the midfield. Canada missed several good scoring opportunities and one was beginning to wonder if those missed chances was going to be their downfall. However the talented Sinclair made no mistake in the 40th minute when she chest trap a cross from the right side at the far post and buried a left foot volley into the net to open scoring just before the half.
The second half started with Canada piling on the pressure but for the most part the play was a little shabby. Rhian Wilkinson scored the second goal with a neat placement from a backward cross along the ground from Sinclair after Sinclair ran out of real estate after eluding the Jamaica defense. Sinclair closed out her play after pouncing on a rebound off the cross bar and showed the calm of a veteran when she hammered home the ball pass the stranded Jamaica goalkeeper to give Canada a comfortable 3-0 lead.
Although Canada had their way in terms of the run of play, the Jamaicans deserve a lot of credit for keeping their composure and doing a decent job of ball possession in the second half of the game in spite of the score. In future Canada would have to concentrate on more ball possession in games where they have a sizable lead. This tactic can be very effective in preventing injuries.
All in all it was a good display of aggressive soccer by Canada and Jamaica would have to regroup for their next game for third place against most likely Mexico.
Canada – 22-McLeod, Erin; 2-Kiss, Kristina (18-Gayle, Robyn, 77); 3-Booth, Melanie; 8-Matheson, Diana; 9-Chapman, Candace; 10-Franko, Martina; 11-Hermus, Randee; 12-Sinclair, Christine (C) (7-Morneau, Isabelle, 75); 13-Walsh, Amy; 16-Wilkinson, Rhian; 17-Timko, Brittany (5-Neil, Andrea, 83)
Head coach: Even Pellerud
Subs not used: 1-Alcia, Leisha; 4-Andrews, Sasha; 6-Schmidt, Sophie; 14-Tancredi, Melissa; 15-Robinson, Jodi-Ann; 19-Vermeulen, Amy
Jamaica – 13–Paula Jackson; 4–Alicia Wilson; 6–Audia Sullivan; 9–Natalya Manyan; 11–Kimmia Parker; 12–Peta-Gaye Soman; 15–Nicola Bell; 16–Yolanda Hamilton; 17–Diane Hue; 18–Stacy-Ann Johnson (10-Hishamar Falconer ,72); 19–Rochelle Bryan (10– Omolyn Davis, 60)
Head coach: Vin Blaine
Toronto soccer fans could look forward to a treat with the arrival of its first Major League Soccer franchise the Toronto FC, which is scheduled to play its first game at the new 20,000 seat BMO Stadium at Exhibition Place next spring. Toronto FC is the first MLS expansion outside of the United States.
In an effort to boost attendance the Toronto FC is in search of talented local soccer players who are willing to take their playing career to the next level. The team will be conducting tryouts at the Ontario Soccer Centre in the City of Vaughan and registration can be done online at www.torontofc.ca. The try-outs are open to persons 14 years and older and registration deadline is November 27, 2006. The registration will be limited to the first 1,000 people who register on line.
On the national scene the Canadian women senior team is in serious training for the upcoming Gold Cup in California, USA in November. The Canadian women will be playing the winner of the Panama versus Jamaica game in the semi final on November 22. Reigning Women’s Gold Cup Champions, USA will meet the winner of the Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago game in the next semi final.
The Champion team and the runner-up will automatically qualify to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. The third-place finisher in the CONCACAF event will face Japan (from the Asian Football Confederation) in a home-and-away playoff for the final berth in the FIFA tournament.
The Canadian senior men team is also in preparation for the CONCACAF Gold Cup as they join Mexico and host USA in the North Zone that waits the advancing teams from the Caribbean Digicel Cup tournament and Central American zone. Four out of the twelve teams from the Caribbean Digicel Cup will advance to the twelve-team Gold Cup.
Final Round will be held in Trinidad & Tobago with five teams from the Central American Qualification zone (2007 UNCAF Nations Cup hosted by El Salvador) and three automatic qualifiers from the North Zone (Canada, Mexico and USA), and four teams from the Caribbean zone. The 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup is scheduled from June 6-24 in cities across the USA with venues to be announced in November.
Haiti and St. Kitts/Nevis won Group G and Group H respectively in the Caribbean zone to qualify for the CONCACAF/FIFA World Youth Cup to be played in Mexico and Panama in January and February. The big surprise of the first round was the fact that Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago did not win their groups and as such will have to play each other for the third spot in the Caribbean Zone. The winner will advance to complete in the final eight of the CONCACAF U-20 Group. Four out of the eight teams will advance to the FIFA under-20 World Youth Cup, in Canada next summer.
St Kitts/Nevis won Group F with a 2-1-0 record with wins against T&T (1-0) and the Dominican Republic (3-1). T&T clinched second place (on goal difference) after opening with a 1-1 tie with the Dominican Republic and an important 3 goal margin win over St Vincent and the Grenadines 3-0. Haiti secured first place in group G after a 0-0 tie with Jamaica in Haiti.
Not so long it was customary Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to be playing for first place or the final of a prestigious cup. Presently the Jamaica football program seemed to be under construction while their top brass is under fire although the Jamaica U-20 team has been consistent in the tournament.
On the flip side Trinidad and Tobago World Cup success seemed to have created problems for the T&T Football Fedefation and an unfair distraction for their U-20 team. Nevertheless the T&T youth team improved their play and final standings after a spirited performance against SVG. This was complimented with a better job by T&T head coach Brian Williams.
It is clear that the other Caribbean countries have improved their level of play to be capable of defeating Jamaica and T&T. Based on just completed first round of play in the tournament it is safe to say that the CONCACAF teams will have to raise their level of play before the finals in Canada.
The amazing results of the evenly matched T&T Group F division are as follows: St Vincent and the Grenadines opened the Group F schedule with a 3-1 win over the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic in turn, went on to defeated St Kitts/Nevis 1-0 in their next game. St Kitts/Nevis rebound to defeat T&T by a score of 1-0 after T&T tied 1-1 with the Dominican Republic. The group winners were decided on the last day of play when St Kitts defeated Dominican Republic 2-1 to secure first place and T&T overcoming SVG 3-0 to clinch second spot.
The Jamaica versus Trinidad and Tobago series will create a lot of hype but these two teams still have a lot of work to do to advance pass the next round.
Trinidad and Tobago-born 18 year old Anthony Adur, the youngest player on the field scored the lone goal at the 62 minute mark to help Italia Shooter upset Serbian White Eagles to win the Canadian Soccer League championship. The game was played at Ester Shiner Stadium on Sunday before a close to sell out crowd that comprised of predominantly Serbian supporters.
The game was a see saw battle with lots of action and the early surprise was that Italia Shooters was holding their own against the powerful Serbians attack. The fact that the Shooters had the better scoring opportunities after a 0-0 first half was good for the game. This was the Shooters fourth attempt at the league championship in as many years and to sum up their thinking they were of the opinion that “something had to give” this season.
They defeated arguably the #2 teams in the Toronto Croatia to get to the final and by their tenacity in this game it also appeared that they were well prepared. Tactically Italia made adjustments to their team that seem questionable but did work. One of these moves was moving their offensive player and 2005 League MVP (T&T born) Desmond Humphrey to the central defense position where he constructed their offensive plays by spraying long precise passes to both flankers in the first half. This strategy seemed to confuse the Serbians coaching staff and caught their defense by surprise on a number of occasions in the first half.
The second half was similar to the first with Serbians turning up the offense a notch and Italia using the counter attack more frequently. It was from one of those counter attacks that Anthony Adur broke free and unleash a volley from close up to give Italia the lead they never relinquished. In the dying moments of the game one could tell it was not the Serbians night when one of their headers from within the six yard box rebound off the upright with the Shooters goalkeeper beaten. However these chances were not as frequent as the Serbian White Eagles would have liked due to the defensive efforts of the Italia Shooters that proved to be the difference in the game.
Kwesi Loney another Positive for the Community
Kwesi Loney of Scarborough has followed in the footsteps of his father by being in the winners circle for a third consecutive time. Kwesi was very instrumental in securing three major championships for his Ottawa St Anthony’s Italia team over the past month, and in doing so helped his club create history.
Winning three of the major trophies is a first. St Anthony’s dethroned GS United of Scarborough in the Ontario Cup final and went on and prove they were worthy Ontario Cup champions by advancing to win the National Championship in Vancouver.
Kwesi is the son of Anthony Loney who was one of the foundation players of the (defunct) Iere Sports Club over the years and a winner of numerous goal scoring titles in his long illustrious career. Similar to his father Kwesi is a crafty player but unlike his dad, his left foot is his bread and butter. He can play all positions but has been a reliable defensive player at the high levels of competition. He does move forward with confidence and has developed a tremendous long throw-in that was one of the offensive trade marks of the now defunct dominant Ottawa Wizards team. Kwesi was a member of the Wizards when they won the CSL (formerly called the Canadian Professional Soccer League back to back in 2002-03.
He was also a representative of an All Canadian University team that traveled to Seoul Korea for the the World University games. After going full circle from Amateur to professional and back with success, maybe the Canadian national selector will make that all important phone call to Kwesi to add some punch to the team.
Kwesi mother is Mrs. Tressa Hislop Loney, cousin of Shaka Hislop and given the gene pool he’s dipped in on both sides of the family it is comes as no surprise that Kwesi has evolved into a terrific soccer player and a well rounded young man.
Kwesi , a past pupil of Mother Teresa High School in the Malvern area, is a graduate of Carlton University, Ottawa with a B.A. in Political Science. He is willing to take things in stride and ladies he can be reached at 416-Ohshucks or 613-AH Forget.
ICaribbean Stars has an abundance amount of talent in the community just waiting to be discovered or to be given that important break.