Canada defeated Mexico for the second time in six days to win the CONCACAF Women’s World Cup Qualifier championship on Monday 8 November in Cancún, Mexico. Canadian captain Christine Sinclair’s sixth goal of the tournament in the 54th minute was enough to lead Canada to a 1:0 victory. The win capped an impressive tournament for the Canadian squad who finished undefeated with a 5-0-0 record; tallying 17 goals while conceding zero in the process.
With its place at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011 already safely secured, the Canadian’s faced a confident Mexico side that was coming off an impressive win over USA to advance to the final. The final proved to be a much tighter contest than the Group A match played between the two sides earlier in the competition.
The Canadian side created more in the way of clear cut chances in a cagey opening 45 minutes. Forward Melissa Tancredi saw a flicked header come back off the cross bar six minutes into the match and her follow up effort from the rebound was deflected wide.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd the Mexican side started much more confidently than it had when Canada dominated Mexico 3:0 the final group stage match six days earlier.
Sinclair nearly broke the dead lock in the 22nd minute as she weaved through the Mexican defence before hitting a low shot which was saved at full stretch by Erika Vanegas in the Mexican goal.
Veteran Mexican forward Maribel Dominguez was the most dangerous Mexican on the pitch and it was the tricky forward who won a pair of dangerous free kicks on the edge of the Canadian penalty area. Fortunately for Canada, the Mexican attackers were unable to trouble Karina LeBlanc in the Canadian goal with its resulting shots.
LeBlanc did have to be sharp in the 38th minutes as a low cross was destined for the far corner before she reached out a strong hand to push the ball away from danger.
The match exploded into life in the 53rd minute. Canada worked a short corner routine to perfection to set-up Sophie Schmidt for a strike on goal which came back off the post. The rebound fell to Josée Bélanger at the top of box and her first time effort was goal-bound until Mexican defender Veronica Perez deliberately used her hand to tip the ball over the bar. The Trinidad referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and produced a red card for Perez. Sinclair stepped up and calmly converted the penalty kick to give Canada the lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Down a player the Mexican’s picked up the physical intensity as both teams committed to each tackle following the goal.
The Canadian squad kept its defensive shape and limited Mexico’s chances while comfortably seeing out the remainder of the match.
With the 1:0 victory over Mexico Canada completes the competition without conceding a single goal, an impressive feat at an international competition. Canada’s well organized team defence was expertly marshalled by ever-present centre back Candace Chapman, who along with Sinclair and Schmidt were the only Canadians to play all 450 minutes of play during the qualifiers.
Coach Morace named the same starting eleven from the side that defeated Mexico 3:0 in the final group stage match as Tancredi and Carmelina Moscato returned to line-up while youngsters Jonelle Filigno and Desiree Scott returned to the subs bench. LeBlanc started in goal, Marie-Eve Nault, Candace Chapman, Schmidt, and Rhian Wilkinson left to right across the back line, Kaylyn Kyle, Moscato, and Diana Matheson in midfield while Belanger and Sinclair joined Tancredi in attack. Canada made one halftime substitution as Moscato was replaced by Scott. The two other Second half substitutions saw Bélanger replaced by Filigno in the 73rd minute and Tancredi replaced by Christina Julien in the 83rd.
Canada, whose title sponsor is Winners and presenting sponsor is Teck, will now shift its focus to the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011. 2011 will mark Canada’s fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance. The 22 day football celebration will be held in nine cities across Germany beginning on 26 June leading to a 17 July final in Frankfurt. Mexico has also qualified for Germany 2011 by virtue of reaching the CONCACAF final. USA, the third place finisher, will try to become the third team to qualify from CONCACAF as it faces Italy in a home and home series with the winner advancing directly to the World Cup.
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