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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Thursday, July 6, 2000

    Soccer nats take a leap

    By TONY MARASCHIELLO -- Toronto Sun

      Canada has joined the Netherlands and Australia as the biggest movers of the year thus far in FIFA's world soccer rankings.

     The sport's governing body yesterday ranked the Canadian men's team 55th in the world, up four from last month and a 26-spot jump from the beginning of the year.

     Only the Dutch and Aussies have made bigger advancements since January.

     Since German-born coach Holger Osieck took over in September 1998, Canada has improved 33 places. Canada's highest ranking was No. 40 in December 1996.

     Canada will take its steady rise in the world rankings and a 15-game unbeaten streak into its first World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago July 16 in Edmonton.

     Canada won a two-game playoff series with Cuba last month to qualify for the semi-final stage of World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

     Brazil held on to top spot in the FIFA rankings, but France is closing in following its victory in Euro 2000. The Brazilians have held No. 1 in the rankings since July 1994.

     Italy, Portugal and the Dutch benefitted from their showings at Euro 2000, placing sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Italy and Portugal both jumped eight places while the Netherlands moved up 13 spots.

     The top 10 consists of Brazil, France, Czech Republic, Spain and Argentina in a tie, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway.

     England fell three spots to No. 15 while Scotland remained unchanged at No. 21.

     GET YOUR TICKETS: Tickets for Canada's World Cup qualifier against Mexico Nov. 15 at Varsity Stadium went on sale yesterday.

     The Ontario Soccer Association is handling all group sales. Call (905) 264-9390, ext. 221, fax your request to (905) 264-9445 or e-mail the OSA at tickets@soccer.on.ca for more information. Tickets for groups of 10 or more are $15 each.

     Individual tickets are available at Ticketmaster outlets and at www.ticketmaster.ca. Individual tickets are $29.



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