Edwini-Bonsu leads Canada to victory


CSA & Whitecaps FC

Two goals by Vancouver Whitecaps FC striker Randy Edwini-Bonsu gave Canada's U-20 men's national team a valuable 2-0 victory over Mexico at the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Monday.

Bouncing back from Saturday's late defeat to tournament hosts Trinidad & Tobago, Edwini-Bonsu struck in the latter stages of the Group B contest to keep Canada's hopes of making the FIFA U-20 World Cup alive, while the result - coupled with Trinidad & Tobago's 0-0 draw with Costa Rica - ended Mexico's chances of reaching Egypt 2009. Canada's victory was all the more remarkable, as they scored both of their goals with ten men after midfielder Shaun Saiko was shown a red card in the second half.

Canadian U-20 head coach Tony Fonseca stuck with the same Whitecaps quartet that played on Saturday for the important clash with Mexico. The Residency duo of centre back Adam Straith and midfielder Philippe Davies earned starts on Monday, while Fonseca kept faith with the pairing of Edwini-Bonsu and Marcus Haber in attack.

With both countries needing to avoid defeat, the first half struggled to come alive as a contest at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad. Edwini-Bonsu and Kennedy Owusu-Ansah caused the Mexicans some concern with some dangerous forward runs, while Mexico could not take advantage of a free-kick opportunity on 29 minutes, as the Canadian wall stood firm to block their set-piece.

Canadian goalkeeper Adam Street needed to save Arnhold Rivas' low shot on 38 minutes before Edwini-Bonsu had the last chance of the half with a strike that flew wide of the target, as both sides had to settle for the 0-0 scoreline at the break.

The beginning of the second half saw Fonseca introduce another Residency player in Kyle Porter to the contest before Straith missed the chance to give Canada the lead when he struck a header over the Mexican crossbar from a corner just a few minutes after the restart.

The Canadians then ran into some trouble moments later, as captain Nana Attakora-Gyan needed to be replaced by Whitecaps defender Ethan Gage on 58 minutes after picking up an injury. A few minutes later, Fonseca's side were reduced to ten men when Saiko was sent off following a heated exchange with some Mexican players. Canada were unhappy that Mexico restarted play from a throw-in, despite Paris Nakajima-Farran being injured and on the ground after blocking a Mexican goal-bound strike.

Though the task looked a bit more daunting at this stage, the ten men of Canada - which included no less than six Whitecaps players until Haber's late substitution - surprised their North American rivals with two late goals in the final quarter hour of the match.

The winner came on 75 minutes, as Davies found Haber down the left-hand side before the Whitecaps striker played a cross into the Mexico box. The ball fell kindly for Edwini-Bonsu, who fired home his first goal at U-20 international level. "The ball dropped in front of me and I was just in the right place at the right moment," said the Whitecaps striker after the match.

Seven minutes later, the Edmonton, Alberta, native struck again when he took another Canadian cross into the Mexico box off his chest before finishing to complete the 2-0 victory. "What we showed was a lot of character," said Edwini-Bonsu of Monday's win. "To go against a world-class team like Mexico, it was something else. Nobody on our team wanted to lose, as everybody wants to go to the World Cup."

The result gives Canada a win and a defeat from their opening two matches, with Fonseca's squad needing to claim another result in their final group game against Costa Rica on Wednesday. Canada need to finish in the top two in Group B in order to qualify for the U-20 World Cup in Egypt later this year.

Sunday, meanwhile, proved bittersweet for Whitecaps striker Dever Orgill at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. Though Jamaica U-20's revived their World Cup hopes with an important 2-1 victory over El Salvador in Group A, Orgill was one of two Jamaican players to be sent off in the first half at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. The striker's red card means he will miss Jamaica's final group game versus Honduras on Tuesday, with the Caribbean nation needing a result against the Central Americans to clinch their spot at Egypt 2009.

CANADA (Whitecaps players in bold)
1.Adam Street; 2.Eddy Sidra, 4.Nana Attakora-Gyan (Ethan Gage 58'), 5.Adam Straith, 15.Paris Nakajima-Farran; 6.Philippe Davies, 7.Shaun Saiko, 10.Kennedy Owusu-Ansah (16.Kyle Porter 45'), 14.Derek Gaudet; 9.Marcus Haber (Brandon Bonifacio 76'), 17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu