A sea of red expected for magical match in Montréal

The message is loud and clear. One day after announcing the date and location for Canada’s first home leg in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Qualifiers, Canadians from coast to coast have been asked to get behind the national team. With an unprecedented surge in popularity within Canada for the global game, Montréal will have the first opportunity to support the men’s national team in the world’s most important tournament. That first task is scheduled for 20 June at Stade Saputo.



“One of the things that can certainly help us during the qualifying process is the fan support,” says coach Dale Mitchell. “I have to admit to being a little envious to what has gone on in the last year or so within Canada. (At the Toronto FC home opener), there was a sea of red in the stands cheering on the team. I can tell you as an ex-player that that would have been a great lift to the team.”

The message is loud and clear. One day after announcing the date and location for Canada’s first home leg in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Qualifiers, Canadians from coast to coast have been asked to get behind the national team. With an unprecedented surge in popularity within Canada for the global game, Montréal will have the first opportunity to support the men’s national team in the world’s most important tournament. That first task is scheduled for 20 June at Stade Saputo.



“One of the things that can certainly help us during the qualifying process is the fan support,” says coach Dale Mitchell. “I have to admit to being a little envious to what has gone on in the last year or so within Canada. (At the Toronto FC home opener), there was a sea of red in the stands cheering on the team. I can tell you as an ex-player that that would have been a great lift to the team.”



Canada opens its 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ Qualifiers against Saint Vincent & the Grenadines on 15 June in Kingstown. Canada then returns home for the Montréal match five days later. It will be the first-ever FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match hosted by the city of Montréal.



The Montréal match is so much more than just an international contest between two sides. Granted, Canada is a much bigger football nation than SVG, but in FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers, anything can happen and anything is possible. That’s the magic of the world’s biggest football tournament. When the whistle blows, it comes down to the 11 players on the pitch and how well they play football for those given 90 minutes.



There were 35 nations in CONCACAF competing for just three or four tickets to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. Eleven nations were eliminated in the first stage in February and March. The remaining 24 nations now take part in 12 separate two-match series in June. Canada, one of 13 nations that received a bye directly into Stage 2, was drawn into its set with Saint Vincent & the Grenadines.



“Our players are very excited to be playing at home in front of Canadian fans,” says Mitchell. “That can be a big advantage to us.”



With a full house at Stade Saputo, Canada’s men’s national team hopes to get the lift it needs to advance to Stage 3 which runs August to November. The 12 advancing teams will be split into three pre-determined groups. Should Canada advance, it will play a league system of home-and-away matches against the winners of the México-Belize series, the Jamaica-Bahamas series, and the Honduras-Puerto Rico series. From each of the three four-team groups, two teams will advance and two teams will be eliminated.



The fourth and final stage takes place in 2009. There will be six teams playing in a league system of home-and-away matches. The top three CONCACAF teams win an automatic spot to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ while the fourth team enters a two-match playoff series with the fifth-best team from the CONMEBOL confederation (South America).



On the road to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, Canada’s first special stop in Canada is Montréal. That road needs to start with a partisan full house at the new Stade Saputo.

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