Having shown that they can deal with the ghost of Even Pellerud and officials unclear on the offside rule in beating a resolute Trinidad team 1-0 and then the cold determination to park eight against Guyana to ensure a superior goal difference before their penultimate game against Mexico, Canada have now earned the right to a game against Costa Rica, rather than the USA, to qualify for the 2011 World Cup. While this is by no means a certain victory it looks much better than the alternative.
Heading into that Mexico game played in Cancun, in the shadow of Hurricane Tomas, my prediction of Canada advancing on goal difference ahead of the hosts was looking prescient. Conditions were more than difficult with the game being played for large parts in a monsterous deluge that would normally prove to make creative attacking play difficult and a 0-0 draw a distinct possibility. Canada though were undaunted and looked very sharp in the attacking third making goals out of half chances twice. Mexico’s 16 year old goalie was unfortunately a bit out of her element (both in experience and climatically as well most likely) and the game was done by the half with Canada eventually winning 3-0 and never really having their goal threatened.
Topping their group meant avoiding an (almost) all or nothing showdown against the USA who had similarly squashed their rivals on the other side of the draw. Neither the States nor Canada wanted to face each other for a spot in Germany so there is relief all around as Canada takes on Costa Rica at 4pm and the USA take on Mexico. There will of course be a final but the reality of course is that all the marbles are being played for today and not Monday.
The two finalists go to Germany and the third place team play the waiting fifth place European team for the last spot in the World Cup.