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  • Sunday, June 4, 2000

    Canada scores win in opening round

     HAVANA (CP) -- Captain Jason deVos's 40th-minute goal gave Canada a 1-0 win over Cuba on Sunday in the first leg of a home-and-away World Cup qualifying playoff.

     The two teams meet again next Sunday in Winnipeg. The aggregate winner advances to the semifinal round of qualifying in soccer's CONCACAF region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

     "Now we have everything in our hands to go through to the next round," said Canadian coach Holger Osieck, who was banished from the bench as a result of being ejected during the Gold Cup final against Colombia in February. Assistant coach Bruce Twamley ran the team.

     The win extended Canada's unbeaten streak to 14 games under Osieck, whose record as Canadian coach is 12-3-5.

     Canada's last loss was July 9, 1999, in a friendly against Saudi Arabia in Fullerton, Calif.

     The winning goal came as Nash sent a long throw in to Carlo Corazzin, who flicked the ball into the six-yard box. DeVos banged it in with a right foot.

     The Cubans had only 10 players on the field at the time, with Lazaro Darcourt receiving medical care on the sidelines after suffering a minor facial wound.

     It was the third goal in 23 international appearances for the six-foot-four defender from Appin, Ont., who plays for Dundee United in Scotland. His last goal was also an important one, coming in Canada's 2-0 win over Colombia in the Gold Cup final.

     The goal came during a first half, played in hot, humid conditions, in which the Cubans made their presence felt on a patch field.

     Jason Bent, on the goal-line, blocked a shot off a corner in the 11th minute while goalie Pat Onstad had to retrieve a rebound in the 29th minute.

     "We are not through yet and the Cubans, as I said and the boys found out today, are not a weak team. They have some good potential," Osieck cautioned after the match.

     "Therefore we've got to be careful in Winnipeg. But we have everything in our own hands and we shouldn't give it away."

     Canada is ranked 63rd in the world by FIFA, while Cuba is No. 75.

     The winner of the playoff advances to a semifinal round of group play against Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago. Play in that round starts next month.

     The top two in each of the three semifinal groups advance to the final round of six, which will produce the three CONCACAF entries for the 32-team field in South Korea and Japan in 2002.

     Canada had to take part in this playoff as a consequence of performing so poorly in the final round of qualifying in the region for France 98. The Canadians finished last in the final round of qualifying with a 1-6-3 record and, as a result, were not given a bye into the semifinal round this time.

     Sunday's game failed to excite the Cuban crowd, which numbered less than 3,000.

     Canada's lineup

    : Pat Onstad, Paul Fenwick, Carl Fletcher (12-Jeffrey Clark, 80th minute), Tony Menezes, Jason deVos, Richard Hastings, Paul Stalteri, Jason Bent, Carlo Corazzin (17-Robbie Aristodemo, 85th minute), Martin Nash, Paul Peschisolido (14-David Xausa, 2nd half).



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