Canada’s Road to Colombia
CONCACAF held their draw for the upcoming 2016 Futsal Championship and Canada found out where they will be if they can get past the U.S. A full assessment inside.
PHOTO CREDIT: CONCACAF
By: Kris Fernandes
If Canada is able to win their two game aggregate encounter with the Americans on May 4th and 6th they will earn a spot into Group B of the CONCACAF Futsal Championships where they face Curacao, Cuba, and hosts Costa Rica.
The draw for the competition was held at the Hotel Barceló San José Palacio in San Jose, Costa Rica where Canadian national coach, Kyt Selaidopoulos, was on hand.
Although most will say life would have been harder for Canada had they been drawn in Group A, which features Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, and the winner of Honduras/Trinidad’s two legged-qualifier, it will still ultimately be a very tough task for the Canucks who have not played an international match since the last CONCACAF tournament back in 2012.
The four teams that advance to the semi-final round will earn a ticket to the 8th FIFA Futsal World Cup taking place in Colombia from September 10-October 1. If Canada is able to advance past the group stage they would get their second taste at a Futsal World Cup; their first since 1989 when a young Bob Lenarduzzi and Co. delivered a shock upset to Japan, went even on goal difference, and finished a respectable third place in their group behind Argentina and a very strong Belgian side that went on to claim fourth place.
Curacao surprised everyone in the futsal world when they finished atop of their group in the Caribbean Futsal Championship tournament with a perfect 3-0 record by defeating Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana, and Antigua & Barbuda, while compiling a 13-4 goals for/against, before falling in the final to Cuba.
Coming off winning the Caribbean title the Cubans are one of the most storied futsal nations in CONCACAF history, having earned four consecutive trips to the World Cup from 1996-2008 by finishing as CONCACAF runners-up four straight times. They failed to advance to the knockout stage back in Guatemala at the last championships with a 1-2 record and will be keen to get back there with a talented crop of players at their disposal. Canada would be slated to play Cuba in the final group stage match on May 10th.
The biggest test would certainly come in the opening match of the tournament from the defending CONCACAF champions that will have the support of thousands of wild Ticos supporters backing them at the BN Arena. They beat a very tough Guatemalan side in their own backyard last time around for the title after beating Mexico, Cuba, St Kitts, and Panama. They were eliminated in the group stage at the World Cup in Thailand. The two time tournament champs also recently hosted a four nations tournament last fall that featured Panama, Venezuela, and the U.S. and finished first with two wins against the CONCACAF teams while earning a draw with the South American nation.
Of course, this all bodes on the two big games with the Americans, who have two CONCACAF crowns of their own (1996, 2004). The last time they played, Canada lost 3-2 in a tightly contested battle and this time around the big difference could be that the majority of players representing Canada will have plenty of futsal experience whereas the team from 2012 featured a selection of arena/indoor/soccer players mixed in with a few futsal players from Ontario that essentially went to a futsal boot camp before competing. Perhaps also advantageous is the fact that Selaidopoulos played for U.S. Coach Keith Tozer in his arena soccer playing days.
U.S. Coach Keith Tozer and Canadian Coach Kyt Selaidopoulos share a friendly pose