CSA & Whitecaps FC
Canada's U-20 national team reached the semifinals in the men's soccer competition of the 2009 Francophone Games by winning Group B following a 2-0 victory over Cameroon on Wednesday.
Second-half goals by Agustin De Medina and Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Alex Semenets ensured Tony Fonseca's side a spot in the last four in Beirut, Lebanon. For Semenets, Wednesday's goal was the third of the tournament for the Mississauga, Ontario, native after the speedy winger struck twice in a losing effort on Saturday, as Canada fell 3-2 to Rwanda in their opening Group B match.
"Knowing we had to win, the players performed very strong towards a 0-0 scoreline at the half," former Whitecaps men's team head coach Fonseca told CanadaSoccer.com. "In the second half, knowing we needed two goals, the players put in a lot of effort and were rewarded."
The play at the Stade Rafic Hariri in Saïda, Lebanon, was even in the first half, as the young Canadians adjusted well to the size and speed of the Cameroon players.
Canadian goalkeeper Michal Misiewicz was not tested during the first half, although Cameroon nearly scored just before halftime. On a Cameroon free kick, Canadian defender Taylor Lord made an important block to a shot and deflected it wide of his own goal.
In the second half, Canada created more opportunities, as it pressed hard to find the back of the net. De Medina made the breakthrough on 49 minutes after heading home Paris Nakajima-Farran's cross. Then in the hour mark, Semenets earned Canada a penalty after being pulled down in the Cameroon box. The Whitecaps midfielder made no mistake from the spot, as he made it 2-0 with his finish.
Cameroon's response to being two goals down was to dictate play, but the Africans were unable to break down Canada's resilient backline. Five minutes from the end, Misiewicz made a tremendous save to keep his clean sheet intact.
Canada could have even won by a wider margin after substitute Reda Agourram was taken down in the Cameroon box for another Canada penalty in the fourth minute of time added on. However, Canadian captain and Whitecaps midfielder Philippe Davies saw his spot kick saved by Cameroon goalkeeper Jean Effala Konguep.
The win saw Canada take first place in Group B, as they finished above Cameroon and Rwanda on goal difference. Fonseca's squad will now prepare for a semifinal match on Saturday, with Congo, Ivory Coast, and Morocco also making it to the last four.