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  • Monday, July 17, 2000

    Loss to Trinidad & Tobago means Canada must win this weekend

    By JIM MORRIS -- Canadian Press

     EDMONTON -- Long after the World Cup qualifying loss to Trinidad and Tobago, Canadian coach Holger Osieck sat in the back booth of a local bar, sipping a drink and wondering where the glow had gone.

     The lustre of Canada's upset win at the Gold Cup soccer tournament in February was tarnished by Sunday's 2-0 loss to Trinidad and Tobago. A 15-game winning streak was over and suddenly Holger's fresh-faced heroes find themselves at the bottom of a hole, looking up.

     "It's going to be tough," sighed Osieck.

     "The qualifying is not done yet. We have five more games to come. We know where we stand right now. We know what we have to do. We have to be focused."

     The Canadians now play three games on the road before wrapping up the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region with two games at home.

     Sunday's game against Panama, in Panama City, is crucial if Osieck's team has any hopes of advancing to the final round of qualifying, which will determine the two CONCACAF representatives in the 32-country field at the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan.

     A loss and Canada will have just four games remaining, including two against favoured Mexico, who beat Panama 1-0 Sunday. A loss and Canada's World Cup hopes will probably have to be put on hold another four years.

     "There is no excuses, no ifs," Osieck said about the game against Panama, the lowest-ranked team in Canada's group at No. 119.

     "We've got to be there, we have to get our three points (for a win.)."

     Even more frustrating for the Canadians was the way they lost against Trinidad. Canada dominated most of the game. They outshot Trinidad 8-4 and forced goalkeeper Clayton Ince to make seven saves compared to one by Canada's Pat Onstad.

     But two defensive breakdowns resulted in goals by Manchester United star Dwight Yorke and Angus Eve.

     "We made two bad mistakes to give them those chances," said captain Jason deVos, fresh stitches holding closed an ugly cut over his left eye.

     "We can't afford to do that. We're going to have to learn from that, go into the next game, and not make those kinds of mistakes."

     Winning at home has never been easy for Canada.

     During the qualifying round for the 1998 World Cup Canada played five games at home but managed just one win against a loss and three ties.

     After playing Panama, Canada travels to Mexico City on Aug. 15 where the Mexicans will be looking for revenge for an upset loss in the Gold Cup quarter-finals. The match with Trinidad is Sept. 3 at Port of Spain.

     Canada then returns home for games Oct. 9 against Panama in Winnipeg then Nov. 15 against Mexico in Toronto.

     DeVos said while frustrating, the loss won't sap the Canada's confidence.

     "I don't think we should go into the next game feeling under confident," he said.

     "We should go in there expecting to win and go all out for the three points."



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