Home CONCACAF Canada avoids U.S., Mexico in decent World Cup draw

Canada avoids U.S., Mexico in decent World Cup draw

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FIFA’s World Cup qualifying draw could not have been any kinder to Canada.

If Canada qualifies out of round two of the CONCACAF qualifiers, it knows that it won’t have to face continental powerhouses United States and Mexico in round three.

At the World Cup draw held in Brazil Saturday, Canada was drawn into Group D of the CONCACAF second round (which is still a preliminary round — and the top six countries in the region get to skip), with St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico and St. Lucia. Not only are they three of the lowliest associations in the region, they haven’t played much of late, either. Puerto Rico has yet to play a game in 2011.

Group-stage games are expected to begin some time in September. The venue for Canada’s three home games haven’t been picked yet, but Toronto is a likely favourite for most or all of them — especially with Stade Saputo in Montreal getting its renovations underway in September, and the curtain raising on the new venue at BC Place in Vancouver that month.

If Canada wins that group, it will go into a new third-round group with Honduras, Cuba and the winner of qualifying Group C, which will likely be Panama.

It will be a tough group, considering Canada’s recent struggles against Honduras and Panama’s good form at the Gold Cup (where it beat the United States in the group stage). You can’t use Canada’s draw with Panama at the Gold Cup as any kind of measuring stick, as the Panamanians left a large chunk of their starters on the bench for that one. But, without Mexico or the U.S. taking up what would be a guaranteed spot, there is room for Canada to try and take one of the top two spots and a spot in the final qualifying hexagonal.

Still, with Canada’s poor form and lack of firepower at the Gold Gup, coach Stephen Hart can’t take the round two games against the Caribben nations for granted. One thing Canadian soccer fans have learned about this national team; even against the smallest minnows of CONCACAF, there are no gimme games.

North, Central America and the Caribbean Zone Draw (Round Two) Group A: El Salvador, Surinam, Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic Group B: Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Barbados, Bermuda Group C: Panama, Dominica, Nicaragua, Bahamas Group D: Canada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Puerto Rico, St Lucia Group E: Grenada, Guatemala, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize Group F: Haiti, Antigua and Barbuda, Curacao, US Virgin Islands

North, Central America and the Caribbean Zone Draw (Round Three) Group A: USA, Jamaica, Winner of R2 Grp E, Winner of R2 Grp F Group B: Mexico, Costa Rica, Winner of R2 Grp A, Winner of R2 Grp B Group C: Honduras, Cuba, Winner of R2 Grp D, Winner of R2 Grp C North, Central America and the Caribbean Zone Draw (Round Four) Top two teams in each group

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