Canada qualifies with success in CONCACAF

Mission accomplished: Canada heads back home today after successfully qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Canada finished second at the recent CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Ciudad Juarez, México.



“I was positively surprised by the (improved) level of the teams, referees and organization,” said Canadian coach Even Pellerud of the 2008 tournament. “CONCACAF is not just Canada and the United States, but México and Costa Rica, too. We are also seeing (improvement) from the other countries.”

Mission accomplished: Canada heads back home today after successfully qualifying for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Canada finished second at the recent CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament in Ciudad Juarez, México.



“I was positively surprised by the (improved) level of the teams, referees and organization,” said Canadian coach Even Pellerud of the 2008 tournament. “CONCACAF is not just Canada and the United States, but México and Costa Rica, too. We are also seeing (improvement) from the other countries.”



Canada, whose title sponsor is Winners, finished second in the tournament after posting a 1:1 draw with the United States in the 12 April final. The United States finished first after a post-game 6-5 victory on penalties. Both teams had already qualified for the Beijing Olympics three days earlier on 9 April. The United States won 3:0 over Costa Rica in the first semi-final while Canada won 1:0 over México in the second semi-final. México went on to finish third after winning 3:0 over Costa Rica.



One of the highlights of the tournament was Canada’s back-four defence and goalkeeper. Canada set a tournament record by posting 509 consecutive shutout minutes (dating back to the 2004 tournament). Erin McLeod was outstanding in 2008 with 399 shutout minutes before Carli Lloyd beat the Canadian defence in the 108th minute of the final. McLeod was very good in the semi-final against México, but even better in the final against the United States.



Another hero was striker Melissa Tancredi. Tancredi co-led the tournament with four goals, but she was the only player to score in four consecutive games. In Canada’s first three games, she scored the opening and winning goal of the match (6:0 over Trinidad & Tobago, 1:0 over Costa Rica, 1:0 over México). In the final after Canada was down 0-1 late in extra time, she scored the tying goal with less than five minutes on the clock.



The six-team tournament, which along with the top-four teams featured Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica, was played at the Estadio Olímpico Benito Juarez in Juarez, México just over the border from El Paso, TX. The tournament ran 2-12 April. Canada’s record was three wins and one draw in four matches.



With a second-place finish, Canada qualifies for the Olympics for the first time in 24 years and for the first time in its women’s program history. The 2008 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament runs 6-23 August in Beijing.

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