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Canada - Czech U-20 Game Thread (R)


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Canada taste victory and eliminate Czechs (1-0)

(FIFA.com) 4 Dec 2003


Canada's Josh Simpson © tries to get the ball before Czech Milan Zcharias ® during their FIFA World Youth Championship Group C match in Dubai 04 December 2003.


A late strike from Iain Hume gave Canada their first points of the competition and relegated 10-man Czech Republic to last place in Group C in a fine all-round performance at the Rashid stadium, Dubai on Thursday. The late goal, Hume and Canada’s second in the competition, came after striker Pavel Fort had missed a penalty and defender Petr Knakal had been sent off. The Canucks finish the group in third place and, with three points, still have a chance of qualifying for the last 16, while the sorry Czechs go home following their first loss.

Canada coach Dale Mitchell gave striker Elliott Godfrey his first run out in their final group match. Iain Hume, perhaps their best player of the finals, had a fine chance early on but after taking the ball around the long hands of Tomas Grigar, he failed to find the net from the tightest of angles (10).

The Czechs, needing a win to be sure of going through, had started slowly relying on the quick feet of left-winger David Limbersky to cause danger. The Viktoria Pizen player twice went close. First when his cross fell just behind Fort after he had beaten his man to get to the goalline and then when, well placed, he skewed a 25-yard shot wide (25).

Canada continued to dominate possession, though, while the Czechs began using the long throw to pose problems before half-time.

Whatever coach Pavel Vrba said in the dressing room it seemed to do the trick as the Europeans came out with far more urgency. Within five minutes, they had won a penalty after a bad mistake by right-back Richard Asante allowed Limbersky to retrieve the ball on the goalline and wriggle through towards goal before the Canadian multiplied his mistake by bringing down the flying winger. Fort stepped up and telegraphed his penalty to Alim Karim’s left for a comfortable save low down (50).

And Vrba’s men were to suffer another blow minutes later when central defender Petr Knakal cynically brought down Kevin Harmse to be shown his second yellow, then a red card.

“The penalty and sending off were obviously crucial moments in the match,” said a visibly disappointed Vrba later. “After that we did not have the legs to go on.”


Canada's Gordon Chin ® passes as Czech Petr Sima approaches during their FIFA World Youth Championship Group C match in Dubai 04 December 2003.


Hume thought he had scored after bending the resulting free kick towards the top corner but Grigar, needing all his 1.93m, make a spectacular flying save (63).

The Czech Republic hit back, in what had rapidly become an exciting end-to-end contest, as captain Tomas Sivok flicked a Ladislav Volesak free kick inches wide (69). Substitute Emil Rilke then fired straight at Karim from inside the area.

“We had some pace on the bench and every coach knows to use the width of the pitch against 10 men,” explained Mitchell of his changes after the sending off.

But it was Canada who, playing with an extra man, were beginning to get on top. Sita-Taty Matondo, who had been thrown on with 20 minutes to go, shot weakly from a Hume pass (73). Defender Atiba Hutchinson then headed a corner inches wide before the North Americans got the goal their play deserved. Matondo sprinted onto a defence-splitting pass and squared it for Hume to side-foot home from three yards (1-0, 80).

Captain Gordon Chin struck a 25-yard drive just wide before Matondo had a great chance to settle matters only to see his shot terrifically saved by Grigar.

The Canadians greeted their supporters at the end while the Czechs sank to their knees in disappointment. “We had played well in the first-half of the previous two matches so we thought we’d time our energy to peak in the second half,” said Vrba. “But it has been a long season in the Czech Republic and may players couldn’t perform to their ability. The responsibility is mine.”

“We have improved with each match and today we played well for the full 90 minutes,” added Mitchell. “Whatever happens now, it is extremely gratifying to get the win - nobody can take that away from the boys.”

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Sometimes you just get a feeling.....I posted this on another thread 17 minutes before the match:

Posted - 12/04/2003 : 10:43:12


Aussies beat Brazil 3-2, Argentina beats Mali 3-1.

So there you go Canada, anything is possible. Beat the Czechs.


I then went on the road to attend an out-of-office meeting (wearing my lucky Canada soccer scarf), came back 4 hours later fully expecting to read about a Canadian victory, went on to the FIFA site & there it was. :)

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A few points, having just logged on.

1. Woo hoo!!

2. Coin flips rule; we rock at coin flips; bring it on!

3. Sounds like we missed a great match. :(

4. I'm confused, is it the CSA Sportsnet has a contract with or ManUre? We know which property they spend more time flogging.

5. Tranmere better get used to life after Hume, just like life after Koumas. Maybe Koumas can hook Humey up at WBA, especially since one of their current strikers may be out of action for up to 10 years.

6. Kudos to all those who calculated scenarios. Brilliant stuff, especially for the math-challenged like me.

7. I'm going to get really, really drunk.

8. The Canada scarf is on and staying on.

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Even if we don't go through, I'm thrilled that we've taken our revenge on the Czechs!

It's nice that we dominated possession, but we did have a one player advantage for a good part of the match so that's to be expected. Nevertheless, I'm very excited with the reports on how our lads have played in this tournament. A trip to the second round would be a fitting reward, but I'll be happy with their performance either way.

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Guest Jeffery S.

I think since I have been a big "doubter" about our keeping, that it is time for me to give Karim his due. And wonder why the guy is at mediocre Syracuse. Two penalty stops is awesome, what a way to inspire your team, great leadership.

I also think that Hume is doing great, especially since he has simply stepped in where Belotte is lacking and has taken up the slack.

Looking at scenarios, I think that there is a good chance we will NOT go through. Sorry to say but it is a bit difficult to see how all the combos will work for us. Though I think that the Japan-England group is the best bet if it has to happen.

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Guest Jeffery S.

Don't think it has been mentioned, but on the FIFA official report we were quite ahead in possession, which is a very good sign. Also had more corners, so all indicates that we played them as equals and took it to them when we had to. Wonderful sign. Knocking out the Czechs is no small feat.

I think in qualifying Spain beat Germany in the final and Ireland took third, so the Czechs in any case are not considered the strongest of UEFA youth sides in the tournament.

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I think it has to be said that, with this victory, this tournament already needs to be considered a success. We held Brazil scoreless for a half. We scored against a atrong Australian side and only lost by a goal. And we beat the Czech Republic.

Given the weakness Canada has in development from 15-20 years, it is remarkable that we can compete against players playing regular higher quality soccer (generally but not exclusively). It say something about the individual skill and athleticism of our U-20 team.

Our weakness appears to be defensive mistakes which is not surprising given the need to adjust to a higher level of play. Having said that, it would also suggest that, if we advance, we will continue to improve in that area.

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