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CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Preview


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2004 CONCACAF Pre-Olympic Qualifying Tournament begins next week

30.1.04 - The CONCACAF Men’s Under-23 Olympic Final Round Qualification, the first event on the Confederation’s calendar in 2004, begins next week in two venues in Guadalajara, Mexico. COMPLETE SCHEDULE

Since 1992, when the age limit was changed to U-23 for the men’s football competition at Summer Games, CONCACAF has qualified two nations to three consecutive Olympics and this month two more will advance to Athens (Greece) 2004.

The CONCACAF Final Round tournament (from 2-12 February 2004) will feature two groups of four teams with Canada, Honduras, Panama and USA in Group A at the Estadio 3 de Marzo in Guadalajara, while Group B is composed of Costa Rica, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago and the host Mexico at the Estadio Jalisco.

This is also the third consecutive U-23 Final Round tournament staged by CONCACAF in a single country, with the previous two held in Edmonton, Alberta Canada in 1996 (Won by Mexico) and Hershey, Pennsylvania USA (Won by Honduras) in 2000.

The eight-team event begins on Monday, 2 February 2004 and will have six consecutive first round doubleheaders (three each in Groups A and B) until Saturday, 7 February.

The semifinal matches will take place on Tuesday, 10 February at the Estadio Jalisco at 17:30 and 20:00 respectively.

Two days later (12 February) the tournament concludes at the Estadio Jalisco with the third-place game scheduled for 17:30, while the Final, is set for 20:00. The finalists will also claim the two CONCACAF berths for the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Scouting the teams

Canada – Coached by Bruce Twamley, Canada has outscored their opponents 25-1 in their four previous 2004 CONCACAF U-23 qualifying matches (two games in each of the first and second rounds) … The maple leafs have not advanced into the Summer Games since Los Angeles (USA) 1984, where they reached the quarterfinals but fell 4:2 on penalty kicks to the eventual silver medal winners Brazil.

Costa Rica – One of three Central American teams at the 2004 Olympic Qualifying event, has Rodrigo Kenton in charge who has led the ticos to their first appearance in the CONCACAF Final Round Elimination since 1996 … Costa Rica has scored the most goals in 2004 qualification with 33 in four games … Ticos have made two previous appearances at the Olympic Games in 1980 (Moscow, USSR) and 1984 (Los Angeles, California USA).

Honduras – Will be looking to make it two in-a-row after qualifying for their first Olympic Games in 2000 … After a first round bye in Olympic qualifying, the catrachos had a difficult round two but were able to eliminate Haiti by a slim 3:2 aggregate margin. Edwin Pavón, who led Honduras during the CONCACAF Gold Cup last year, is at the helm.

Jamaica – One of the two qualifiers from the Caribbean are looking for their first-ever appearance at the Olympic Games … Jamaica reached the 2004 Final Round Qualification after eliminating Cuba and Guatemala in two consecutive rounds (first, second) series … Peter Cargill is in charge of the reggae boyz.

Mexico – After missing a berth to Sydney 2000, Mexico is aiming for its ninth trip (second-best in CONCACAF) to the Olympics in 2004 … The tricolor are guided by technical director Ricardo La Volpe, who last year led Mexico’s full squad to the CONCACAF Gold Cup … The tricolor also looks to extend their 16-game unbeaten streak in CONCACAF U-23 Qualification with their last defeat coming against the USA, 3:0 on 26 April 1992.

Panama – Under newly appointed technical director José Hernandez, Panama is one of three Central American nations in the Olympic Final Round … The canaleros advanced to Guadalajara after defeating Nicaragua in the first round and then eliminating St. Lucia in the second stage … Looking for their first-ever berth into the Summer Games in 2004.

Trinidad & Tobago – Searching for their first trip to the Olympics, Trinidad & Tobago is one of two qualifiers from the Caribbean region in the CONCACAF Final Round … The soca warriors eliminated the Bahamas in the opening round and then Grenada in the second to advance to Guadalajara … Stuart Charles Fevrier is at helm of Trinidad & Tobago.

USA – The CONCACAF nation with the most appearances in the Olympics (with 12) is looking for its sixth consecutive trip to the Summer Games since 1984 … With Glenn Myernick at the helm, the stars & stripes earned a first round bye during the 2004 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying and then eliminated St. Kitts & Nevis in the second round to earn a berth into the Final Round.

http://concacaf.com/view_article.asp?id=2417

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Men's Olympic Football Tournament

CONCACAF’s cream clash for two Athens tickets

(FIFA.com) 30 Jan 2004

AFP - ELIOT J SCHECHTER

Sydney 2000 veterans the United States and Honduras will be looking to book passage to Athens 2004 when the final qualifying tournament gets underway in Guadalajara, Mexico from 2-12 February. But with six other CONCACAF candidates hungry for glory and gold, the two-week competition with a pair Athens berths up for grabs will surely prove an intense affair, and a showcase for the sometimes overshadowed region’s football.

The United States, who have been rising meteorically through the ranks in recent years, will have their work cut out if they are to have any hopes of reaching the final party and repeating their surprising fourth-place finish Down Under four years ago.

Group A: Veterans tussle for return ticket

USA coach Glenn Myernick – heartened by an extensive month-long training camp in California in which he had access to nearly his entire squad – is in high spirits heading into a tough Group A alongside Honduras, Canada and Panama.

“We know a lot more about Honduras and Canada than we do about Panama,” the stern-faced U.S. boss recently told FIFA.com. “We can only do our best, find the right combinations and strike a balance and try not worry too much about our individual opponents. We will be as prepared as we can be - so prepared that our opponents will have to worry about us rather than the other way around.”

With a squad comprised primarily of domestic-based, home-grown talent, and with FIFA World Cup™ veterans Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley leading the way, the USA have to be one of the favourites in sun-drenched Guadalajara.

But perennial Central American battlers Honduras will be blocking their way. Bolstered by a string of positive results, the appointment of globe-trotting Serbian witchdoctor Bora Milutinovic to the post of senior technical director and a fine recent showing at the Carlsberg Cup in Hong Kong, things are looking on the up down Tegucigalpa way. After a slim 0-1 loss to neighbours Mexico on 17 January, Edwin Pavon’s under-23s never truly looked in over their heads and will be a stern Group A contender with a now-trademark blend of power and panache.

Bruce Twamley’s Canadians know full well the importance of every passing tournament for the ice-hockey-obsessed Great White North. Just months after the U-20’s flew into a first-ever quarter-final at the FIFA World Youth Championship in the UAE, a spot under the Athens sun would prove another significant step toward increased footballing respectability for the Canucks. The side, who will surely feature some of the brighter stars from UAE 2003 such as Atiba Hutchinson and Josh Simpson, will be a tough test for all comers.

“The most important thing is to steady ourselves and get ready for the Olympics,” said University of Portland midfielder Simpson in Abu Dhabi after losing a heartbreaking golden-goal result to eventual finalists Spain. “Qualifying for the Olympics would be a great next step for Canada’s soccer.”

Panama, whose football has certainly been on the up in recent years, must still be considered the group’s rank outsiders. But, just as Canada, they will have lessons learned from UAE 2003 on which to draw. However, unlike their northern counterparts, theirs was no cheery story, with three straight defeats to their name and first-round elimination. But with the impressive goal-scoring exploits of “El Matador” Luis Tejada -eight goals scored in four qualifying matches so far - who would be so presumptuous as to count José "Cheche" Hernandez’ young men out?

Group B: Caribbean spice for the party

Mexico, hosts and hands-down favourites for the top spot in Group B, will first have to navigate their way past Central American up-and-comers Costa Rica and island sides Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago before cementing a spot at the base of Mt. Olympus.

Ricardo Lavolpe’s young side gained some confidence recently from a 1-0 defeat of Honduras, the side that knocked them out of qualifying four years ago. The only goal of the match came from Monarcas Morelia player Rafael Marquez Lugo.

Trinidad & Tobago, known primarily for their inconsistency in the region, will be looking to right the ship and consolidate their reputation with a solid performance in Mexico. With poacher-supreme Devon Mitchell leading the charge, the Soca Warriors will be no pushover. But two consecutive friendly losses to minnows Cuba may wear on their minds.

Island neighbours Jamaica too will be looking to turn their trademark flair and rhythm into results in Guadalajara. Coach Peter Cargill has made claims that his side are the “best prepared” in Olympic qualifying history. Whether that gets them a chance at Olympic Gold or not, the young Reggae Boys figure to turn heads - even without the services of number-one keeper Allien Whittaker, who tore ligaments in a recent training camp in the United States.

Never to be overlooked and on the crest of an ever-swelling wave, Costa Rica will be a side of which to beware. With home and away wins over Guyana, a 6-1 aggregate thrashing of the Bahamas and an unheard-of 23-0 hammering (over two legs) of poor Belize in earlier qualifying matches, confidence in Rodrigo Kenton’s side is sure to be sky-high.

The winners of Groups A and B will book passage to Athens and meet in the Final on 12 February at the Jalisco stadium.

2004 CONCACAF OLYMPIC FINAL ROUND QUALIFICATION

Group A: Canada, Honduras, Panama, USA

Group B: Mexico, Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, Costa Rica

Schedule of Matches

Monday, 2 February, Estadio Jalisco

18:00 - Costa Rica v. Jamaica

20:00 - Mexico v. Trinidad & Tobago

Tuesday, 3 February, Estadio 3 de Marzo

18:00 - Canada v. Honduras

20:00 - Panama v. USA

Wednesday, 4 February, Estadio Jalisco

18:00 - Costa Rica v. Trinidad & Tobago

20:00 - Mexico v. Jamaica

Thursday, 5 February, Estadio 3 de Marzo

18:00 - Honduras v. Panama

20:00 - Canada v. USA

Friday, 6 February, Estadio Jalisco

18:00 - Trinidad & Tobago v. Jamaica

20:00 - Mexico v. Costa Rica

Saturday, 7 February, Estadio 3 de Marzo

18:00 - Canada v. Panama

20:00 - Honduras v. USA

Tuesday, 10 February, Estadio Jalisco

Semifinals:

17:30 - Group A Winner v. Group B Runner-up

20:00 - Group B Winner v. Group A Runner-up

Thursday, 12 February, Estadio Jalisco

17:30 - Third-Place Game

20:00 - Final

http://www.fifa.com/en/display/article,74046.html

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Both Poz & Masciantonio are suspended for that first game. With De Guzman available against Honduras Masciatontio might not have played anyway, but I think Poz would have started.

http://www.sportsnet.ca/soccer/shownews.jsp?content=R020231AU

Canada faces tough road in men's Olympic qualifying soccer tournament

posted February 2 @ 17:00, EST

(CP) - Qualifying for the Olympic men's tournament is one of the toughest challenges facing a Canadian soccer side, with just 16 teams in the field compared to 32 for the World Cup and 24 for the World Youth Championship.

And CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, only sends two teams to the Games. The challenge isn't any easier when you are missing key players and have others flying from Germany to Mexico the day before your first game.

Canada opens play Tuesday against Honduras at the CONCACAF final round qualifying tournament for under-23 players in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Because FIFA doesn't compel clubs to release players for Olympic qualifying, star striker Iain Hume remains in England with Tranmere Rovers. Terry Dunfield is also in England, with Bury, while fellow midfielder Mike Klukowski is in Belgium with his club side La Louviere.

Midfielders Julian de Guzman (Hannover 96) and Tam Nsaliwa (SSV Jahn Regensburg) were not due to arrive in the Canadian camp until late Monday after playing for their German clubs on the weekend.

De Guzman is to fly back to Germany after the Honduras game so he can rejoin Hannover for a high-profile match against Bayern Munich on the weekend. Nsaliwa does not have any such restraints, but he only played a half for his German club team Sunday because of a rib injury.

An X-ray did not turn up a break but the Canadian team does not know the extent of the injury. And it is unlikely the flight from Germany to Mexico will improve the Edmonton midfielder's comfort level.

Canada will be further hampered against Honduras by the fact that captain Chris Pozniak, a defender, and midfielder David Masciantonio are suspended for the game because of accumulation of yellow cards in the first round of qualifying.

Twamley has scouted Honduras and calls them a technically proficient team with some speed on the flanks and up front.

But he still knows his team has to at least take a point from Honduras if the game Thursday against the U.S. is to mean something.

The others in Canada's group are Panama and the U.S.

Group B features Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The top two in each pool advance to cross-over semifinals, with the two finalists qualifying for Athens.

Canada's goal will be to finish first in its pool to avoid a likely semifinal showdown with Mexico, seen as the class of the field.

"Mexico, I think, are pretty much assured of going through," Twamley said Monday from the team's hotel in Guadalajara. "It's a fight amongst the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, hopefully ourselves (for the other berth)."

In contrast to Canada's preparations, the Americans have been in Mexico for 10 days.

"They're sharp as tacks," according to coach Glenn Myernick. "This team is ready to play."

Canada has not qualified for the Olympic men's competition since 1984, when it was beaten by Brazil in the quarter-finals in a penalty shootout.

Twamley was awaiting word on Nsaliwa's condition before naming his starting lineup. Andrew Olivieri, a backup with the Montreal Impact, will start in goal.

-

Olympic Notes: Twamley, whose contract expires at the end of the year, says it's unlikely he will be back as Olympic coach for the next cycle of qualifying. He says it's time for a change, although he has not really thought beyond the Mexico tournament. ... A new face on the Canadian team is forward Stephen Ademolu of Windsor, Ont., who plays for Cleveland State University. "He's got a lot of speed and we felt he has potential," said Twamley. ... The Canadian side in Mexico features seven players from the team that reached the quarter-finals of the world under-20 championships in November in the United Arab Emirates.

-

Pappas Perfect: Toronto goalkeeper Peter Pappas has been named goalkeeper of the week in the Major Indoor Soccer League for a fourth time this season. The 31-year-old Philadelphia Kixx 'keeper, who was also goalie of the month in October, went 2-0 last week, stopping 38 of 45 shots.

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quote:Originally posted by Gian-Luca

I have to say, full credit will have to be given to Canada if we qualify, as the roster being chopped & changed (due to necessity) for each match isn't going to make things easier (along with the player absences).

Right on, Gian-Luca. It's an uphill struggle, and should we qualify it would be a major accomplishment and a feather in the guys caps .

On the other hand, changing rosters may be a necessity in itself given the short time between the matches (only two days, except for 3 days before the semis).

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quote:Originally posted by Gian-Luca

I have to say, full credit will have to be given to Canada if we qualify, as the roster being chopped & changed (due to necessity) for each match isn't going to make things easier (along with the player absences).

Right on, Gian-Luca. It's an uphill struggle, and should we qualify it would be a major accomplishment and a feather in the guys caps .

On the other hand, changing rosters may be a necessity in itself given the short time between the matches (only two days, except for 3 days before the semis).

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from the Sportsnet article:

Canada's goal will be to finish first in its pool to avoid a likely semifinal showdown with Mexico, seen as the class of the field.

"Mexico, I think, are pretty much assured of going through," Twamley said Monday from the team's hotel in Guadalajara. "It's a fight amongst the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, hopefully ourselves (for the other berth)."

Interesting psychology, to prevent complacency in the group match against the US. If we meet Mexico in the semis, I'm sure he'll add something like: "Well, we saw Mexico play several times in this tournament, and now we know we can beat them with a good game"

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from the Sportsnet article:

Canada's goal will be to finish first in its pool to avoid a likely semifinal showdown with Mexico, seen as the class of the field.

"Mexico, I think, are pretty much assured of going through," Twamley said Monday from the team's hotel in Guadalajara. "It's a fight amongst the U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras, hopefully ourselves (for the other berth)."

Interesting psychology, to prevent complacency in the group match against the US. If we meet Mexico in the semis, I'm sure he'll add something like: "Well, we saw Mexico play several times in this tournament, and now we know we can beat them with a good game"

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I don't see why Mexico is being feared so much. I think the US is presently the top CONCACAF team at all levels particularly if the Azteca factor is removed. While the US is certainly the favoured team in our match we certainly have the ability to beat them. This would hold true for Mexico as well even if they are at home. I don't believe in making your players afraid of certain teams especially when you may face that team in the semis and will then have to change your tune. Twamley should be trying to instill the belief that they can beat any team at any time like Mitchell did at the U20 level.

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