Canada M23 one win away from Rio 2016 Olympics
Posted on 8 October 2015 in ↳ Men's EXCEL U-14 to U-23
A historic win is all that separates Canada from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. In the way are the reigning Olympic champions Mexico, Canada's opponent for this Saturday's 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Tournament semi finals in Sandy, UT.
The Canada-Mexico semi final kicks off at 16.00 local at Rio Tinto Stadium, with the USA-Honduras tilt plotted three hours earlier in the 10 October double header. Back home, the Canada-Mexico match will be broadcast live across the nation on TLN and streamed live on canadasoccer.com via CanadaSoccerTV (18.00 ET / 15.00 PT).
"It is a big opportunity for us and the whole Canada Soccer nation," said Canadian captain Samuel Piette. "We are just one win away from a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics."
Canada will need to be at their best on Saturday to win a spot at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Mexico is a squad that has won all four CONCACAF youth tournaments since the London 2012 Olympics (CONCACAF Under-20 and CONCACAF Under-17 in 2013 and 2015). At the most recent Olympic Qualifying Tournament for London 2012, Mexico eliminated 10-man Canada in the 2012 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying semi finals in Kansas, KS.
This Saturday's semi final, however, provides Canada with an opportunity to create history in 90 minutes or more. The team will be focused on putting forth their best performance of the competition having more time to regroup and regenerate after a packed group stage of three matches in six days.
Canada posted one win, one draw and one loss in the group stage, finishing second in Group A behind USA. Canada's best performance was the opening match against USA, despitey a 1:3 defeat after conceding in the first minute.
"Our team played better than the score suggested (in the first game)," said Canada's Olympic coach Benito Floro. "The performance was good, so we must think positively and try to do better."
Canada held 55% of the game's possession against USA and posted an 87% pass completion rate. After the opener, Canada posted a 3:1 win against Panama and a 2:2 draw with Cuba. It marked the third qualifying campaign in a row that Canada won a spot amongst CONCACAF's four best teams.
All four teams that reached the 2015 semi-final stage will have two chances to qualify for the Rio 2016 Men's Olympic Football Tournament, something that has not been awarded in recent qualifying cycles. Winners of the two semi finals will qualify right away, while the winner of the Match for 3rd Place on 13 October will advance to an intercontinental playoff against Colombia (a home-and-away series to be played at a later date).
Also on Tuesday 13 October, CONCACAF will crown a champion and celebrate the tournament's award winners, including Golden Ball (best player), Golden Glove (best goalkeeper), Golden Boot (top scorer), and Bright Futures awards. CONCACAF will also hand out the Fair Play trophy (team award) and select a Top XI all-star team.
Fans can follow the team throughout the tournament on Twitter @CanadaSoccerEN and contribute to the conversation using #canM23. Video reactions and post-match reports will also be posted regularly to canadasoccer.com and CanadaSoccerTV.
The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will feature both a men's and women's football competition in August 2016. The 16-nation Men's Olympic Football Tournament will run 3-20 August. So far, the seven nations qualified are Argentina, Denmark, Fiji, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and host Brazil.