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  • Tuesday, August 15, 2000

    Canadians lose 2-0 to Mexico

     MEXICO CITY (CP-AP) -- Substitute Jose Manuel Abundis scored early in the second half and an own goal by Canadian defender Paul Fenwick late in the game gave a sloppy Mexican side a 2-0 win over Canada in World Cup qualifying soccer action Tuesday afternoon.

     The loss puts Canada (0-2-1) deep in the hole in its semifinal round CONCACAF qualifying group. It also marked the fourth game in a row -- three in World Cup qualifying -- that Canada has failed to score.

     But Canadian coach Holger Osieck said nobody should count out the Canadians yet.

     "A person is dead when he's in a coffin. And we are not in a coffin yet," he said.

     Mexico, ranked 14th in the world to No. 56 for Canada, dominated play throughout the game but was unable to finish its chances.

     "Mexico played a very good game," Osieck said. "We didn't want to play defensively, but Mexico was too strong. We couldn't get out of our own half.

     "Mexico has more quality players in attack than my team, so that's the difference."

     Canadian midfielder Davide Xausa had a great chance to tie the game in the 69th minute when he found himself all alone on the left-hand side. But instead of heading for goal and shooting, he sent a cross behind Carlo Corazzin and the chance was lost.

     Things went from bad to worse in the 81st minute when Fenwick inadvertently headed the ball into his own net -- with goalie Pat Onstad frozen on the line -- as he tried to flick away a free kick by Pavel Pardo.

     Mexico (2-1-0) and Trinidad and Tobago (2-0-0) are tied for the lead in Canada's group with six points. Trinidad and Tobago could take sole possession of first place after Wednesday's home game against Panama (0-1-1).

     A Trinidad and Tobago win Wednesday and Canada could be all but toast. That would give T&T nine points with three games remaining while Mexico has six points with two of its three remaining games at home.

     Canada can collect no more than 10 points and would have to win all three of its remaining games to do so, while hoping Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico fall on their heads.

     It's possible the Canadians could be eliminated by early September.

     Only the top two teams from each of the three semifinal round CONCACAF groups advance to the final round of qualifying in the region.

     Canada's next game is Sept. 3 against Trinidad and Tobago in Port-of-Spain. The Canadians finish off against Panama on Oct. 9 in Winnipeg and Mexico on Nov. 15 in Toronto.

     Azteca stadium was only about half full. Organizers scheduled the game on a weekday afternoon to avoid the late-afternoon rainstorms that are common here this time of year -- and to make things as uncomfortable as possible for the Canadians.

     The fans didn't get the commanding win they expect at home.

     "We worked on winning and we met our goal," Mexico coach Manuel Lapuente said. "I would have liked to win by a bigger margin. We couldn't, and I'm happy with the win."

     Canada came out in a defensive shell, playing a 1-1-4-4-1 formation with Tony Menezes as sweeper and Corazzin the lone attacker as the visitors sought to present a solid defence in the rarified air of Estadio Guillermo Canedo, better known under its former name of Azteca Stadium, located 2,240 metres above sea level.

     It was all Mexico in the first half but the home side's finishing was woeful. Canada, meanwhile, did nothing to trouble veteran Mexican goalie Jorge Campos.

     "We have to do a little more if we want to win," Menezes said later. "If we just defend, defend, we're going to go down. We have to do something up front if we want to think about a World Cup."

     Mexico finally cracked the Canadian defence in the 48th minute. The ball came down the right-hand side and Miguel Zepeda sliced the ball across the penalty box.

     As Onstad rushed from the right post to the left, an onrushing Abundis beat Fenwick and banged it high into the near top corner of the net over Onstad's raised arm.

     Abundis was the second-leading scorer in the Mexican league last season but has been slowed this year by a stretched knee ligament suffered against Trinidad and Tobago in the February Gold Cup.

     In the second half, the Mexicans began to exert more pressure and were especially dangerous off free kicks, one of which banged off the crossbar.

     But the onslaught started early in the first half. In the second minute, Mexican defender Rafael Marquez raked a free kick across the Canadian penalty box, just missing the head of one attacker and the foot of Luis Hernandez.

     In the fourth minute, Onstad made an easy save off a soft shot after a looping ball down the right side.

     Onstad had to go down in the 11th minute for a low stop off a shot just outside the penalty area.

     In the 13th minute, Francisco Palenzia poked a shot past Onstad but the ball hit the post and bounced back into the Canadian goalie's arms before a Mexican could get to it.

     Onstad had to be sharp when a Mexican shot deflected off a Canadian defender's leg.

     Late in the half, German Villa launched two long-distance rockets but both missed their target.

     Mexico outshot Canada 11-1 in the first half but only got four shots on goal. The Mexicans also had five corners to one for Canada.

     The win improved Mexico's World Cup qualifying record at Azteca Stadium is 41-0-3. The last time the Mexicans lost at home was in June 1981, a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Spanish club powerhouse Real Madrid who were European Cup runners-up that year.

     Mexico has outscored its opposition 163-21 in World Cup qualifying play at Azteca.

     Canada is 1-6-6 lifetime in World Cup qualifying games against Mexico, with the lone win coming in 1976 in Vancouver.

     Canada's overall record in Mexico City, including a friendly game, is 0-8-1.

     The Canadians have been outscored 29-2 there with Canada's last fours games at Azteca losses of 2-0, 4-0, 8-0 and 4-0.

     ------

     Lineups

     Mexico: Jorge Campos; Jose Maria Higareda (Victor Ruiz, 64); Claudio Suarez; Rafael Marquez; Ramon Ramirez; Pavel Pardo; German Villa; Braulio Luna (Jose Manuel Abundis, 46); Miguel Zepeda; Francisco Palencia; Luis Hernandez (Jesus Olalde, 77).

     Canada: Patrick Onstad; Paul Fenwick; Anthony Menezes; Jason Devos; Mark Watson; Richard Hastings (Carl Fletcher, 57); Davide Xausa (Marc Bircham, 74); Jason Bent; Paul Stalteri; Jim Brennan; Giancarlo Corazzin (Paul Peschisolido, 71).

     Referee: William Mattus Vega (Costa Rica).



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