2000 Year in Review: Canada

CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONS

Canada was one of five continental champions to be crowned in 2000.

Every confederation except South America, which crowned Brazil in 1999, held championships in 2000.

Here are the other champions:

CAMEROON. The Indomitable Lions were the first champions to be crowned, winning the African Nations Cup. They beat host Nigeria on penalty kicks in Lagos in February. A nucleus of that team returned to win the Olympic gold medal in September.

AUSTRALIA. The Socceroos gained revenge for their loss to New Zealand in the 1998 Oceania Nations Cup, beating the All Whites, 2-0, in the 2000 final in Tahiti.

FRANCE. The Bleus won the European Championship in spectacular fashion with a 2-1 win over Italy in the final. They tied the score with 15 seconds left in regulation and won in overtime.

JAPAN. Frenchman Philippe Troussier led a young Japanese team to the Asian Cup title in Lebanon. The 2002 World Cup co-hosts dominated the competition, outscoring its opponents, 20-6, in six games.

0 Canada for HolgerÆs Heroes

CanadaÆs year had begun so well, so unexpectedly.

Canada, the Gold Cup champion.

WhoÆda thunk it?

The Canadians ousted three-time defending champion Mexico, 2-1, in the quarterfinals, edged Trinidad & Tobago, the most improved team in CONCACAF this year, 1-0, in the semifinals and beat Colombia, 2-0, in the final.

This was the same Canada team that had never advanced past the first round in its first three appearances in the CONCACAF championship and didnÆt bother entering the tournament in 1998.

In the process, Coach Holger OsieckÆs team kept Los Angeles fans home in droves.

Instead of the 90,000-plus fans expected for a Mexico final, the Canada-Colombia game drew 6,197 fans. And that was an improvement on the 2,841 at the Coliseum for the semifinals.

ôWeÆre not going to put a lot of bums on seats in California,ö acknowledged Carlo Corazzin, who led Canada with four goals. ôBut the one thing we are doing is getting people to stand up and recognize that Canadian soccer is on the up.ö

But what goes up must come down. Quickly, in this case.

By September, two months before the end of the semifinal round of qualifying, Canada was eliminated from the 2002 World Cup.

HolgerÆs Heroes? Or O Canada, as in 0 goals over 580 minutes in World Cup qualifying before Jim BrennanÆs goal beat Panama?

The reality is that Canada is a team without any stars.

Corazzin, the Gold Cup hero, spent last season with Northampton of the English Third Division.

You donÆt get any lower than that on the totem pole.

Embarrassingly, two Canadians, AnderlechtÆs Tomasz Radzinski and Bayern Munich teenager Owen Hargreaves, have made names for themselves this fall, but neither will play for Canada.

Canada still has a long ways to go before it earns respect.

At home and abroad.

by Soccer America managing editor Paul Kennedy

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