ALSO ON SLAM!
Sunday, July 23, 2000
Nats look for way through Panama
Canadians find goals hard to come by
Canada will be doing a little soul-searching today in its World Cup soccer qualifier against Panama.
But the national men's team might be better off doing a little goal-searching.
The Canadians have been running around in circles in their efforts to score in recent games and it has cost them dearly in the early stages of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea.
Canada lost 2-0 to Trinidad and Tobago in the opening game of the semi-final round of qualifying at Edmonton last Sunday after going 15 games without tasting defeat.
Canada has just one goal in its past three games (1-1-1), that coming in a 1-0 win over lowly Cuba in a qualifying playoff series at Havana last month.
The Canadians know they desperately need to score and win their game today against the Panamanians (4 p.m., CTV Sportsnet, tape delayed) to stay alive in their quest to qualify for their first World Cup in 16 years.
"We have carried the play in most of our recent games," Canadian coach Holger Osieck said. "But we haven't been efficient. We've had plenty of scoring opportunities, but we just can't seem to finish."
Canada dominated most of the game against Trinidad but wasted several clearcut scoring opportunities.
Trinidad, meanwhile, made good on its few chances.
Canadian strikers Paul Peschisolido and Carlo Corazzin have just one goal between them in the five games since Canada beat Colombia 2-0 in the final of the Gold Cup in February.
However, Osieck doesn't plan any lineup changes for this afternoon's game at Stadio Romuel Fernandez at Panama City. The fact is, Osieck doesn't have many options.
"What can I do?" Osieck said. "I don't have anyone better than Paul or Carlo to take their place. I have been happy with their play. We just have to put some balls into the net."
Canada, 55th in the July FIFA rankings, has beaten and tied 119th-ranked Panama in its only two previous meetings.
Both games took place in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup in France, with Canada winning 3-1 at Edmonton and tying 0-0 at Panama City.
"I don't think our spirits are down," Osieck said. "We know what's at stake. Beating Panama at home is going to be tough, but we know we're capable."