World Cup hopes end for Canada U-20's


CSA & Whitecaps FC

Canada's hopes of qualifying for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup came to an end after a 2-1 defeat to Costa Rica at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship on Wednesday.

Despite an early goal by Vancouver Whitecaps FC youngster Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Canada succumbed to a second defeat in Group B at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, as goals by Jorge Castro and Marcos Danilo Ureña secured Costa Rica's place at Egypt 2009.

Canadian U-20 head coach Tony Fonseca named five Whitecaps players in his starting XI for the final group match versus the Central Americans. With captain Nana Attakora-Gyan injured, Ethan Gage earned his first start in the tournament, as he partnered Residency teammate Adam Straith in the centre of the Canadian defence. Philippe Davies started his third-straight match, with Vancouver, BC, native Brandon Bonifacio replacing the suspended Shaun Saiko to play alongside Davies in midfield. In attack, Fonseca kept faith with his strike pairing of Edwini-Bonsu and Marcus Haber following their winning efforts against Mexico on Monday.

Needing a victory to assure their place in the U-20 World Cup, Canada made a fine start to the contest by taking the lead on 12 minutes with a goal that was manufactured by two Whitecaps players. Davies fed Edwini-Bonsu with a pass down the left-hand side, with the Edmonton, Alberta, native using his pace to elude his Costa Rican marker. The forward worked his way into the Costa Rica box before finding space to strike at goal and give Canada a valuable early lead. It was the Vancouver marksman's third goal of the tournament.

Costa Rica, however, responded well to going behind by forcing Canadian goalkeeper Adam Street to save three goal-bound efforts between minutes 16 and 24.

Undeterred, the Costa Ricans found their way past Street on 25 minutes, as the Central Americans were awarded a dangerous free kick after Bonifacio was adjudged to have handled the ball when blocking a Costa Rica shot. Though the Canadians had set up a decent wall, Castro curled his set-piece effort over the wall and into the top left-hand corner of Street's goal for 1-1.

With the match back to level terms, Canada needed to find another goal, but Haber was unable to redirect Davies' long-range shot on target with his head on the half-hour mark. In fact, it was Costa Rica that created more opportunities in minutes 36 and 39, while Ureña struck the Canadian crossbar just before the halftime break.

With the goals becoming more of a priority, Fonseca added another attack-minded player to the match on 62 minutes, as Residency striker Kyle Porter replaced defender Eddy Sidra. Both players currently play with FC Energie Cottbus in Germany.

Porter's introduction had little effect, however, as Costa Rica ended Canada's World Cup hopes when Ureña scored the match-winner on 72 minutes. The Central Americans ultimately punished the Canadians on the counter-attack, as they were caught pushing forward in search of a crucial goal.

Now in need of two goals at this stage, Fonseca replaced Davies with another forward in Igor Pisanjuk three minutes later. Costa Rica, however, nearly scored a third goal in the dying stages after hitting Canada's crossbar for a second time.

The result meant an early exit from the CONCACAF U-20 Championship for Canada, while their hopes of a fifth-straight appearance at a U-20 World Cup was also at an end. Costa Rica and tournament hosts Trinidad & Tobago not only booked their places at Egypt 2009 on Wednesday, they also reached the tournament semifinals on Friday.

Tuesday, meanwhile, proved to be an equally disappointing end to the tournament for Whitecaps striker Dever Orgill and his Jamaica U-20 squad, as they were also eliminated from the tournament and Egypt 2009 after falling 4-0 to Honduras in their final Group A match at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. Orgill and team captain Andre Darby were unavailable for Tuesday's match through suspension, as the pair picked up red cards in Jamaica's 2-1 win over El Salvador on Sunday. Honduras' victory meant they joined the USA in reaching the U-20 World Cup and the tournament semifinals. Thomas Rongen's American squad won Group A after a 2-0 win over El Salvador on Tuesday.

CANADA (Whitecaps players in bold)

1.Adam Street; 2.Eddy Sidra (16.Kyle Porter 62'), 20.Ethan Gage, 5.Adam Straith, 15.Paris Nakajima-Farran; 6.Philippe Davies (19.Igor Pisanjuk 75'), 10.Kennedy Owusu-Ansah, 12.Brandon Bonifacio, 14.Derek Gaudet; 9.Marcus Haber, 17.Randy Edwini-Bonsu