Feature image: Canada goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau
Canada’s attempt to send a men’s football team to Rio 2016 Olympic Games will go through Kansas, Colorado and – if the dream is to become reality – Utah in the first two weeks of October.
Late last week Canada Soccer announced the under-23 team named to take on the United States, Panama and Cuba in the group stage beginning with the Americans on October 1 in Kansas City.
Following the match against USA (live on TLN at 9 p.m. ET on October 1), Canada stays in Kansas to play Panama two days later, before ending the group stage against Cuba in Commerce City, Colorado on October 6. Should Canada finish top two in the group, it advances to the semifinals in Sandy, Utah for a chance to book an Olympic spot.
The two finalists from the CONCACAF (Canada’s region) Olympic qualification tournament automatically go to Rio. While the third place team will take on Colombia in a playoff for one of the 16 coveted Olympic men’s football spots.
The CONCACAF qualification rules dictate that the team must consist of players who are 22-years-old or younger at time of qualification. At the Olympic Games three players of any age can appear at the largely under-23 football tournament.
In the last edition of regional Olympic qualifying, Canada was one win away from booking a place at London 2012. However, a 3-1 loss to Mexico in the semifinals pushed the Canadians out.
This year the Canadian squad will be coached by national team head coach Benito Floro, demonstrating the importance many feel reaching the Olympics could have on Canadian football.
Team Canada at CONCACAF Olympic qualifying:
Anthony Jackson-Hamel, Caleb Clarke
NOTE: Player positions listed as per Canada Soccer.