A lone goal from Karla Schacher was enough to give Canada victory over USA in Saturday's final of the 2008 U-20 Women's CONCACAF Championship, played at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc in Puebla, Mexico. The young Canucks' have now won the competition twice, their first success coming in 2004.
In reaching the final, the North American duo also sealed their
places at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, to be held in Chile
between 19 November and 7 December. The region's other
qualification slot went to Mexico, who clinched their ticket to the
finals with a penalty-shootout win over Costa Rica in the third
The final turned out to be a tight, tactical affair with both sides closing down space and cancelling each other out in an intense midfield battle. Schacher won the day for the Maple Leaves on the stroke of half-time, rifling in a powerful shot after a fine run from the right flank. Try as they might, the Americans were unable to get back on level terms in a fiercely contested second half in which both defences held firm.
"The team stuck to our gameplan so closely that I'm delighted with their performance," said Canada coach Bob Birarda after his side had lifted the trophy. "They played a brave game, especially the four at the back. I have to say, though, that Erin McNulty was fantastic. ."
"It was a very frustrating game," commented Birarda's opposite number Tony DiCicco. "It was one of those matches in which you make a defensive error and you have to play catch-up. The team were brave, created a lot of chances and battled till the end. But you have to give Canada their due. They didn't put a foot wrong. We've got a lot to learn form this final and we need to keep looking to the future."
The 1-0 win proved sweet revenge for the Canadians, who lost out to the USA in the final two years ago. What is more the Canucks now have the edge over their southern neighbours, having lifted the trophy twice and finished runners-up once.
Third finals appearance for Mexico
After taking part at Canada 2002 and Russia 2006, the Mexicans can now prepare for their third appearance at the second most important tournament in international women's football. Leonardo Cuellar's girls recovered from their semi-final defeat to the Americans to claim the third CONCACAF ticket to Chile 2008 in an incident-packed third place match against the Costa Ricans.
Claudia Ericka Garcia sent the home fans wild when she opened the scoring for the Aztecas just before the break, only for Raquel Rodriguez to equalise at the start of the second half. Rodriguez was on target in extra time to put the Ticos ahead but the hosts forced penalties when Dinorah Garza shot home. The Mexicans then kept their cool from the spot to book their finals place.
Figuring high among the tournament's leading individual performers was Mexico striker Veronica Charlyn Corral, who made such an impact at Russia 2006 and grabbed four goals for her side here. It was Jamaica's Shakira Duncan and USA twosome Michelle Enyeart and Kelly O'Hara who shared the goalscoring honours, however, with six goals each.
With the qualification of the CONCACAF trio, the line-up for Chile 2008 is now complete. Joining the hosts will be Argentina and Brazil from the CONMEBOL Zone, France, Germany, England and Norway from Europe, Nigeria and Congo DR from Africa, Japan, China PR and Korea DPR from Asia and Oceania's solitary representative New Zealand.
2008 U-20 Women's CONCACAF Championshipstandings and results: