PASADENA, Calif. – Canada have a massive mountain to climb if they want to reach the quarterfinals of the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup after they were outplayed and eventually embarrassed, going down 1-0 to Martinique on Sunday afternoon at the Rose Bowl.
Facing the tiny French department in what many labeled a must-win match, the Canadians were largely outplayed for the bulk of the game and were fortunate that Martinique had difficulty finishing their chances until the final minute when Fabrice Reuperne controlled a corner that Canada couldn’t clear and unleashed a rocket that claimed all three points.
Canada face Mexico and Panama in their final two group matches, meaning they’ll have to earn points against the favorites in order to advance. Eight of 12 teams make the quarterfinal stage.
Canada started the match brightly with a few half chances, as both Marcus Haber and Doneil Henry failed to convert opportunities from corner kicks. Haber’s effort was saved in the 10th minute and Henry’s 13th-minute header went wide.
After that, though, Martinique flipped the switch and suddenly Canada looked outmatched against their Caribbean opposition.
Frédéric Piquionne of the Portland Timbers sparked the Martinique attack, while Canada goalkeeper Milan Borjan had a few nervy moments, especially dealing with balls in the air. Twice he opted to punch crosses that he should have caught. Each time, Martinique gained a scoring chance that they simply couldn’t put away.
As much as Borjan was his own worst enemy in the first half, he was sharp early in the second half, twice pulling off quality stops to keep his team in the game. Eventually, Canada pushed back and created some chances at the other end.
OPTA CHALKBOARD: Martinique gets just reward despite early struggles in front of net
Russell Teibert controlled a cross from the right-hand side in the 64th minute and unleashed a 25-yard shot that was tipped over for a corner, and just a minute later, David Edgar‘s header caromed off the bar.
But the rest of the way Martinique looked the likelier of the two teams to find a breakthrough.
They found it through the 37-year-old Reuperne, prompting the Martinique bench to celebrate enthusiastically while Canada were left to ponder the difficult task ahead.
Canada now faces Mexico and Martinique plays Panama on Thursday in Seattle before coming to Denver for the final match of Group A play on July 14.