The path is set for Canada’s men’s U-23 team as they seek a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In a draw held in Los Angeles, California, Canada was drawn into Group A alongside the host Americans, Cuba, and Panama.
“I think all the teams are very good teams so we cannot say that our group is more difficult than the other one. They are similar,” said head coach Benito Floro.”
“We believe that if we get all the players we’d like, we could have a very good team and we can compete with anyone and that we can play very well and win games. “
The group almost completely matches Canada’s group from four years ago as Canada played both the USA and Cuba as Canada came one game short in trying to reach the 2012 Olympics in London. The third team in the group, Panama, just played Canada at the 2015 Pan American Games with Panama coming away with a 2-0 victory.
Canada opens at Sporting Park in Kansas, City, Kansas on Thursday, October 1 against the United States. Two days later they take on Panama before wrapping up the group stage on Tuesday, October 6 at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado, against Cuba.
|Thursday, October 1||United States||Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kansas)|
|Saturday, October 3||Panama||Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kansas)|
|Tuesday, October 6||Cuba||Sporting Park (Kansas City, Kansas)|
“If we win or tie while playing well at the same time, which will always be our intention, we could say that it is good that we start against the USA,” said Floro. “But it is not necessary to think about that right now because the most important thing is to play the game and to trust in what we can do on the pitch.”
The top two teams in each of the two groups advance to the tournament’s semi-finals on Saturday, October 10 at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The semi-final winners advance to the Olympics while the winner of a third place game will head to a playoff against Colombia for the final berth.
The other group has Mexico, Honduras, Haiti, and the winner of a playoff between Guatemala and Costa Rica.