While Canada is missing out on the hex in 2009, the soccer calendar for the year is beginning to fill up. The latest announcement is a friendly with Cyprus on May 30th:
Canada’s men’s national team has announced that it will play an international friendly match against Cyprus this 30 May 2009. The match, which will take place in Cyprus, will be an important part of Canada’s preparations for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup which takes place this summer.I'm inclined to take a positive view of this development. In particular, it is good to see that the tall foreheads at the CSA haven't decided to take the year off, essentially, and are scheduling prep matches for our most important tournament of the year.
Some would question the choice of Cyprus as an opponent. In all likelihood, there wasn't much of a "choice" to begin with. I'm sure you've noticed that national sides aren't exactly beating down the door to play us. We aren't exactly slumming by playing with Cyprus, ranked 94th by FIFA, and whose most recent results are a win over Belarus, a 1-0 loss in Dublin, and a draw with Georgia. (For comparison's sake, we're generously ranked 86th, and our most recent results are a loss to Jamaica, a draw against Mexico, and a loss to Honduras).
Sure, Cyprus isn't Brazil, who we played at the end of may in '08. But they're not Malta either (one of Canada's more embarassing results, friendly or otherwise, in recent memory). It would be nice to play at home, but it might be asking too much for more than one home friendly in a calendar year.
Still in the cards for '09 is a home date with Iceland, and the Gold Cup itself, of course.
Here are the important dates on my soccer calendar for the first half of 2009:
- 25 February: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal: Impact - Santos in Montreal
- 3 March: CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal: Santos - Impact in Coahuila, MEX
- 6 - 15 March: CONCACAF U20 Championship (qualifying for U20 WC) in Trinidad and Tobago
- 30 May: Canada - Cyprus in Cyprus
- 3 - 26 July: CONCACAF Gold Cup ***
*** Intrepid commenter and normally reliable blogger Sam notes that the Gold Cup is likely to be moved up on the calendar and some European leagues will have begun already by the end of July.
I'm still waiting for the CSA to announce it's Fan's Choice award. Voting closed, theoretically, on Tuesday, and I doubt even the gang on Metcalfe St in Ottawa takes 3 full days to tabulate a few hundred votes. But if it's not Julian de Guzman, I'll eat my hat.