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Canada begins Futsal World Cup journey, has to beat U.S. in playoff first


By Neil Davidson

THE CANADIAN PRESS

It’s been 27 years since Canada made its only appearance at the FIFA Futsal World Cup.

Montreal coach Kyt Selaidopoulos has been tasked with taking Canada back to the world stage for the indoor five-a-side soccer game.

It won’t be easy. Canada will have to beat the U.S. in a two-game aggregate goals series May 5 and 6 in San Jose, Costa Rica, before graduating to the May 8-14 CONCACAF Futsal Championship.

The championship, also in San Jose, will send four teams from North and Central America and the Caribbean to the FIFA Futsal World Cup slated for Colombia later this year.

Wednesday’s CONCACAF draw sends the Canada-U.S. winner into Group B alongside defending confederation champion Costa Rica, Curacao and Cuba.

Group A consists of Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and either Honduras or Trinidad & Tobago.

Costa Rica won the 2012 CONCACAF championship in Guatemala in July 2012.

“The draw looks good, it looks very positive,” Selaidopoulos said Wednesday from Costa Rica. “But we have to worry about the Americans and only the Americans for now. On May 6, we’ll worry about everybody else.”

He expects a stiff challenge from the U.S.

“It’s going to be a battle,” he said. “The team with the best mental strength will win the series.”

Selaidopoulos has called up 29 players for a three-day camp that starts Friday in Vaughan, Ont. Of those, 14 will make the cut for the U.S. playoff series.

The camp invitees range from 19-year-old Aziah Reid to 42-year-old Giuliano Oliviero, who is four years older than Selaidopoulos. Oliviero, a Vancouver native, is currently coach of the indoor Milwaukee Wave and knows the American team well.

Selaidopoulos, who has spent the last month scouting Canadian talent, says the sport is growing across the country.

“Every province is doing something,” he said. “Now it’s getting everybody together and doing something big for the country and not only doing something for your own province.

“And connecting all those dots for the future so we can even get better and maybe have a league that goes through all the provinces.”

Host Colombia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Iran, Paraguay, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Vietnam have already qualified for the world championship which runs Sept. 10 to Oct. 1

They will be joined by seven teams from Europe, three from Africa and four from CONCACAF.

Bob Lenarduzzi, current president of the Vancouver Whitecaps and former Canadian national team coach, coached the 1989 Canadian team at the inaugural Futsal World Cup in the Netherlands.

The Canadian squad, which featured goalkeeper Paul Dolan and Alex Bunbury, Nick DeSantis and Lyndon Hooper among others, went 1-2-0 and failed to advance past the pool stage.

The U.S. has qualified for five of the seven futsal World Cups.

Canada Camp Roster

Goalkeepers: Luigi Caruso, Toronto Idolo Futsal; Vincent Cournoyer, Royal Select de Beauport; Joshua Lemos, Toronto United Futsal.

Outfield Player: Harry Ahumada, Toronto United Futsal; Vahid Assadpour, Missouri Comets; Nazim Belguendouz, Grenadiers; Ian Bennett, Milwaukee Wave; Nicolas Bertrand, FC Sparte; Daniel Chamale, Futsal Club Toronto; Hector Contreras, Outlaws FC; Kevin Correa, Futsal Club Toronto; Bryan DaCruz, Barrie Futsal Club; Matias Dimarco, Toronto Idolo Futsal; Roberto Galle, unattached; Damian Graham, Toronto Idolo Futsal; Desmond Humphrey, Toronto United Futsal; Eduardo Juaregui, Futsal Club Toronto; Maxime Leconte, FC Sparte; Chris Lemire, Edmonton Scottish; Brandon Lima, Futsal Club Toronto; Frederico Moojen, St. Louis Ambush; Marcelo Oertal, Futsal Club Toronto; Giuliano Oliviero, Milwaukee Wave; Jacob Orellana, Toronto United Futsal; Joshua Paredes-Procter, Futsal Club Toronto; Aziah Reid, Futsal Club Toronto; Robert Renaud, Alibicelestel; Matthew Rios, Toronto United Futsal; Marco Rodriguez, Toronto United Futsal.

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