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Canada asleep at the switch

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (CP) - Striker Paulo Wanchope caught Canada napping seconds into the second half Wednesday as Costa Rica downed Canada 1-0, all but killing off Canada's chances of advancing to the next round of World Cup soccer qualifying.

Off the second-half restart, the Costa Ricans found Wanchope with a long ball near the edge of the penalty box. The newly signed Malaga forward, who had just entered the game as a substitute, fought off young defender Atiba Hutchinson for the ball, and froze Canadian goalkeeper Pat Onstad with a lofted left-footed shot into the far corner of the goal.

The momentary lapse - it took one pass and nine seconds - could have huge consequences for Canada (0-2-1), which badly needed a win to stay in the hunt.

Midway through the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region, the Canadian men have just one point from three games and trail Guatemala (2-0-1, seven points), Honduras (1-0-2, five points) and Costa Rica (1-2-0, three points).

To have any chance of advancing, the Canadians will essentially need to win their three remaining games - including away matches in Guatemala and Honduras. And even that unlikely perfection may not be enough to stave off another World Cup qualifying disappointment.

In the other game in the group Wednesday, Honduras rallied with two goals to tie Guatemala 2-2.

After an even first half, Wanchope's goal woke up Costa Rica and the Ticos took control of the match played on artificial FieldTurf at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa. Only Onstad's heroics kept the scoreline from growing with Costa Rica directing one-way traffic towards the Canadian goal.

A few late corners were not enough to rescue Canada,

The win, coming after two losses, kick-started Costa Rica's stumbling start to the semifinal round. Guatemala (2-0-0) visited Honduras (1-0-1) in the other game in the group Wednesday.

Costa Rica, despite a recent poor run in World Cup qualifying, is ranked 33rd in the world - 66 places above Canada.

Each of the four teams in Canada's group - one of three semifinal pools in the region - plays the other home and away, with the top two in the group advancing to the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Canada's remaining games are Oct. 9 in Honduras, Oct. 13 against Costa Rica in Burnaby, B.C., and Nov. 17 in Guatemala.

Canada's cause was not helped Wednesday by the absence of defender Jason deVos and fullback Paul Stalteri (both suspended) and defender-midfielder Adrian Serioux (shoulder).

Late call-ups Gabe Gervais of the Montreal Impact subbed for deVos on defence while Sando Grande, also of the Impact, played in midfield.

Forward Paul Peschisolido, substituted 45 minutes into the Honduras game, was omitted from the starting lineup as Canada started with a 4-4-1-1 lineup with Julian deGuzman playing as an attacking midfielder behind Tomasz Radzinski.

Canada held its own in the early going with Dwayne De Rosario forcing a save from goalkeeper Jose Porras early on. The San Jose Earthquakes forward was Canada's best attacking option in the first 45 minutes as Radzinski was starved of service.

But Costa Rica started to create chances at the 30-minute mark and only Onstad's acrobatics kept the scoreline level.

The Canadian captain made several good stops, including parrying Alsonso Solis' left-footed shot, while Costa Rica was just off the mark on several other first-half chances.

At the 60-minute mark, Canadian coach Frank Yallop replaced Iain Hume with Olivier Occean in a bid to give Radzinski some help up front. Radzinski, a forward for Fulham, had a half-chance when he broke free in the second half but the ball trickled wide.

Both Canada and Costa Rica came into Wednesday's contest desperate for a win - and needing their luck to turn in the semifinal round of qualifying.

Canada was 0-1-1 after picking up just one of six possible points at home after a sluggish 2-0 loss to Guatemala and a 1-1 tie with Honduras, a heartbreaking result in which a pair of questionable calls cost the Canadians the win.

Things were even worse for the 0-2 Costa Ricans, who have suffered through a horrible qualifying campaign.

The Ticos, one of three CONCACAF teams to make the 2002 World Cup finals, only advanced to this round of qualifying by virtue of the away goals rule after a two-game series with modest Cuba ended 3-3 on aggregate. That cost American coach Steve Sampson his job with Costa Rica.

Costa Rica opened this round with a 5-2 loss to visiting Honduras, who padded the score with goals in the 87th and 90th minutes. Then in Guatemala, Costa Rica had forward Andy Herron sent off in the 16th minute of a 2-1 loss.

As a result Herron was suspended for the Canada game.

Costa Rica was ranked as high as No. 17 in the world last December but remains third in the CONCACAF region. Canada stands 10th in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Canada's bid to make the final round of CONCACAF qualifying for the last World Cup ended 29 games ago on Sept. 3, 2000, in a 4-0 loss in Trinidad and Tobago that dropped Canada's record to 0-3-1 in the semifinal qualifying round.



Costa Rica Defeats Canada 1-0

Ottawa, ON – Canada’s World Cup Team was beaten by a strike from Paulo Wanchope in the early moments of the second half of a pivotal World Cup Qualifying game in San Jose, Costa Rica on Wednesday, September. Wanchope’s volley, sandwiched between two chance-filled half’s, proved the difference and now allows Costa Rica to move into third in the Group, two points ahead of Canada.

From the opening kickoff it appeared as though Canada were the most interested in scoring when a confident build-up and a superb pass from Montreal’s Sandro Grande led to a Dwayne De Rosario strike from the left corner of the area.

The San Jose-based striker would again torment the Costa Rican defenders when he danced his way to the end line fifteen minutes later and sent a teasing cross through the six yard box. The ball had apparently crossed the line for a goal kick but the move seemed to have energized the Canadians forward in search of the opener.

Tranmere Rover Iain Hume would also whip a cross through the Costa Rican box but could not find a teammate.

At the same time, Costa Rica’s Solis looked dangerous throughout the opening 45 minutes, testing Canada’s Pat Onstad three times in the final fifteen minutes. Solis forced an Onstad save at full stretch in the 35th minute and came millimeters away from scoring five minutes later when his rasping shot from 18 yards out whistled past the Canadian post.

The final moments of the first half were dominated by Canada but neither they nor the hosts could convert their opportunities and both teams went to the break with the game deadlocked.

The second half was barely underway when the game suddenly turned. A long ball was launched toward the top of the Canadian area. Halftime substitute Paulo Wanchope and Canada’s Atiba Hutchinson both challenged for the ball and collided. Wanchope reacted quickest to the loose ball and cleanly hit a left-footed volley from the corner of the Canadian penalty area. The shot skidded off the turf and slipped just inside of Onstad’s left post.

Canada now had to search for an equalizer and in appeared as though the likeliest of scorers would provide it. In the 63rd minute Tomasz Radzinski weaved through two Costa Rican defenders and seemed destined to toe his shot past an onrushing keeper but a recovering defender lunges and narrowly beats the Fulham striker to the ball.

Wanchope really should have given the Costa Rican’s a two-goal advantage when he found himself one on one with Onstad at the penalty spot. Onstad managed to get a hand to Wanchope’s attempted lob and in the process kept Canada’s hopes alive.

But the Costa Rican’s managed to kill off the remainder of the game and have now kept their hopes of reaching the next round alive. Canada will now have an uphill battle if it hopes to reach the final round of World Cup Qualifying.

Canada’s next match in the semi-final round of World Cup Qualifying will take place against Honduras on October 9th in Honduras before returning to Vancouver on October 13th to play Costa Rica in their final home match of the semi-final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004 - World Cup Qualifier

Saprissa Stadium - San Jose, Costa Rica

Canada 0(0)

Costa Rica 1(0)

Goals: Costa Rica – 46’ Wanchope

Cautions: Canada – 89’ Gervais; Costa Rica – 88’ Lopez

CANADA – Pat ONSTAD; Atiba HUTCHINSON (83’ Jaime PETERS); Gabriel GERVAIS; Mark WATSON; Ante JAZIC; Dwayne DE ROSARIO (20’ Nikolas LEDGERWOOD); Sandro GRANDE (79’ Josh SIMPSON); Daniel IMHOF; Iain HUME (62’ Olivier OCCEAN); Julian DE GUZMAN; Tomasz RADZINSKI

Head Coach – Frank YALLOP


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