Canada downs Belize in opening game of World Cup qualifying campaign
Updated at 18:52 on June 13, 2004, EST.
KINGSTON, Ont. (CP) - Canada opened its World Cup qualifying campaign with an ugly 4-0 victory over an outmatched Belize side Sunday thanks to goals by Paul Peschisolido, Tomasz Radzinski, Kevin McKenna and Jim Brennan.
As if knowing what was about to happen, the sun disappeared at kickoff and the skies opened at Richardson Stadium, soaking a pro-Canadian soccer crowd of 8,245. Radzinski alone could have a half-dozen goals on the day. It was one-way traffic and Canada was at the wheel, but still needed three second-half goals to pad out the score.
In truth, the visitors were an awkward young amateur side whose first thought was to kick the ball out or tug a shirt to stop a Canadian attack. It made for a choppy one-sided contest.
The Canadians will easily win the two-game series - the return match is Wednesday night, also in Kingston - but they will not cause legitimate CONCACAF rivals any sleepless nights with this kind of sloppy finishing.
It was 1-0 after 45 minutes and it could have been 8-0. But the Canadians, like kids given the key to a candy store, all wanted a piece of the action and didn't know what to take first.
Peschisolido hit the crossbar with a header in the second minute. Belizean goalie Shane Orio made saves with every part of his body. And other Canadian attacks went just wide or the final pass went astray.
Canada controlled the game with Belize leaving just one man in attack and everyone else in defence. The Canadians outshot the visitors 10-2 in the first half and collected nine corners, with the Belizeans looking distinctly dodgy on every one as Canada sent the big men up front.
The breakthrough finally came in the 39th minute at the end of a nine-pass Canadian move. Peschisolido got the ball back from Iain Hume on a nifty give-and-go and drilled a low show past Orio.
Belize's best chance came in the first half on a deflected shot after a free kick hit the Canadian wall. But Pat Onstad adjusted to the deflection to comfortably snare the ball.
The Belizeans are part-timers and the team was missing star player Norman Tilliman, because of a disagreement with management.
Canada, meanwhile, was at full strength. And coach Frank Yallop opted for an attacking lineup with Hume and Dwayne De Rosario, who play striker for their club teams, on the flank in support of forwards Radzinski and Peschisolido.
Radzinski finally ended a string of misses in the 55th minute, chesting down a corner and banging in a side volley. The Everton forward hit the goalpost minutes later and should probably not waste money on a lottery ticket any time soon.
Substitute McKenna made it 3-0 with a 75th-minute header. Brennan, another second-half sub, had a goal disallowed on an offside call but made it 4-0 in the 83rd on a simple tap-in.
Thirty-four teams entered qualifying play in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. Twenty-four are left and this home-and-away second round will eliminate a dozen more countries.
The remaining 12 teams will be split into three groups of four for the semifinal round, scheduled from Aug. 18 to Nov. 17. The top two teams from each group will advance to the final round of six next year, which will send three teams to the 2006 World Cup finals.
A fourth team will play an Asian country in a playoff for another berth at Germany 2006.
FIFA ranks Canada 10th in the region and 95th in the world. Belize is No. 180 out of the 205 rated by FIFA.
Bordering the Caribbean between Mexico and Guatemala, Belize's population of 266,440 (as of July 2003) is a little bigger than Saskatoon.
The country covers about 23,000 square kilometres, less than half the size of Nova Scotia.
Notes: Paul Peschisolido earned his 50th cap for Canada ... Canada's last home game was a 0-0 draw with Mexico at Toronto's Varsity Stadium on Nov. 15, 2000. ... Goalkeeper Pat Onstad served as Canadian captain.