Atiba Hutchinson and Ali Gerba scored
second-half goals to lead Canada past Cuba 2-1 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup
Tuesday night, but the Canadians were all but eliminated in the first
round of the tournament for the second straight time.
Needing to beat Cuba by three goals for a realistic chance to reach the
quarterfinals, Hutchinson put Canada up 2-0 in the 87th minute with an
unassisted goal. But Cuba's Alain Cervantes dashed the Canadians' hopes
with a goal in stoppage time.
Canada still has the slimmest of hopes to advance to the quarterfinals,
needing Jamaica to beat Mexico by six goals on Wednesday.
Canada, which finished third in Group B, needed to beat Cuba by four
goals to overtake Colombia in the race for one of the two slots in the
quarterfinals that go to third-place teams. Colombia beat Trinidad and
Tobago 2-0 Tuesday.
Only the top two third-place finishers qualify for the quarterfinals.
Had Canada beaten Cuba 3-0, and Mexico not lost by six to Jamaica, a
coin toss would have determined the final quarterfinals entrant.
The Cubans were without forward Maikel Galindo and backup goalkeeper
Odelin Molina in the game, and a Spanish-language television station
reported that they did not arrive at the stadium with the team. Neither
played and they could not be seen on the Cuban team's bench.
Asked if the players had defected, CONCACAF spokesman Steve Torres
issued a statement saying, ``This is a matter for U.S. immigration and
the Cuban federation.''
Gerba put Canada on the board in the 69th minute, as he took a cross in
the box from Josh Simpson and deflected it while airborne, past Cuba
goalie Alexis Rene Aviles.
After winning the Gold Cup in 2000 and finishing third in 2002, the
Canadians have now been eliminated in the first round in the past two
tournaments, and have scored a total of three goals.
The Cubans needed to beat the Canadians by five goals to have a chance
at a coin toss.