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  • Sunday, July 23, 2000

    Canada plays to a draw with Panama

     PANAMA CITY (CP-AP) -- The Canadian soccer team kept its World Cup hopes alive by a slim margin after drawing 0-0 with Panama on Sunday.

     It was a crucial game for the Canadians because a loss would have put them in last place in their four-team pool with zero points.
    Panama's Julio Dely, left, battles for the ball with Canada's Tony Menezes in Panama City, Sunday, July 23,2000, during a qualifying match for the 2002 World Cup. (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)


     Both Canada and Panama earn a point for the draw. Trinidad and Tobago shocked Mexico 1-0 on Sunday, giving T&T six points to lead the pool. Mexico has three points.

     Canada must finish in the top two in its pool in the CONCACAF Group C semifinal round to advance to the final round, out of which the top three teams will advance to the World Cup in 2002.

     Canadian coach Holger Osieck was satisfied with his team's efforts in Panama City heat that reached about 35 C under a broiling sun at Rommel Fernandez Stadium and required Osieck to make several substitutions.

     "All in all our performance was from my point of view really satisfactory," said Osieck. "Our boys showed a lot of character in very bad conditions.

     "The sun was just directly over the stadium. Some players were really suffering from that heat."

     The match, played in front of 20,000 people, began with nastiness on both sides as the teams traded yellow cards in the opening minutes. Each team had two yellows in the match.

     Panama stacked its offence with three forwards up front instead of two in its fight for the much-needed three points awarded for a victory.

     Roberto Brown joined Panama's two star forwards Julio and Jorge Dely Valdes. But the three played erratically with little opportunities to score.

     Osieck brought three new starters into the lineup that lost 2-0 to Trinidad and Tobago to open the round on July 16 in Edmonton. Paul Fenwick started at right fullback with Davide Xausa in centre midfield and Richard Hastings, whose thigh strain kept him out against Trinidad and Tobago, at left half in place of Jeff Brennan.

     Jorge Dely Valdes was yellow-carded for punching Peschisolido in the face early in the match and within a minute Hastings was cautioned for a rough tackle on Brown.

     Canada's Davide Xausa was yellow-carded at the 10-minute mark and Panama's Percival Piggott earned one in the second half for a high tackle on Jeff Clarke.

     "It started in a very passionate manner and I think that guy from Panama definitely should have been sent off for punching our player," said Osieck. "It didn't happen because the referee just didn't have the guts to decide against the home team."

     Canada had two excellent scoring chances, but Panama's goalkeeper Ricardo James stopped Jason deVos in the first half and Xausa in the second.

     "There were at least two chances, but their goalkeeper had a great day today," said Osieck.

     Panama's Luis Angel Rodriguez made the first attempt at scoring, shooting a long shot that was blocked by Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad.

     A Panamanian goal in the first half was waived off for offside.

     Panama has only one home match left while Canada's third match is against regional powerhouse Mexico -- in Mexico City on Aug. 15.

     "We are still in the competition," said Osieck. "We still have our home games. We have to play in Trinidad. I think we will get our opportunities."



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