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Canada-Colombia Final Has Empty Feel to It

Today’s Gold Cup final between Canada and Colombia at the Coliseum is going to be different than the four championship games that preceded it for a number of reasons.

The noon game will be the first, for instance, that features neither Mexico nor the United States.

It also could be the first that features an almost nonexistent crowd. Organizers fear a low turnout on the basis of the sparse attendance at the two semifinals--an announced 3,402 in San Diego on Wednesday night and an announced 2,841 in Los Angeles on Thursday night.

Previous finals have been hugely successful. The first, between the U.S. and Honduras in 1991, drew 39,873 to the Coliseum. In 1993, 120,000 packed Azteca Stadium in Mexico City to see Mexico beat the U.S. Three years later, Mexico defeated Brazil in front of 88,000 at the Coliseum, and the same stadium attracted 91,255 in 1998 for the Mexico-U.S. final.

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But not this time.

Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago earned Canada the CONCACAF championship as the last team in the region left standing. Colombia, a 2-1 victor over Peru in its semifinal, is an invited guest in the 12-nation tournament, not a member of CONCACAF.

The Canadians’ unexpected victory--Mexico was the defending champion and tournament favorite--means they will take part in the next FIFA Confederations Cup, probably in Japan and South Korea next year.

“Nobody ever expected us to win the title,” said Canada’s German-born coach, Holger Osieck. “But to convince people to support your program, you’ve got to win a title.

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“Our team did not play too well, but we shouldn’t forget that most of our players are very young, and they’ve never played in a final before.”

Meanwhile, CONCACAF and Futbol de Primera announced the all-tournament team, which featured three Canadians and one Colombian.

The team: Craig Forrest (Canada), Rafael Marquez (Mexico), Jason DeVos (Canada), Ramon Ramirez (Mexico), Cobi Jones (USA), Arnold Dwarika (Trinidad and Tobago), Roberto Palacios (Peru), Russell Latapy (Trinidad and Tobago), Carlo Corazzin (Canada), Carlos Pavon (Honduras) and Faustino Asprilla (Colombia).

Canada’s Richard Hastings was named rookie of the tournament.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

GOLD CUP FINAL

CANADA

vs.

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COLOMBIA

In their only previous international meeting, Colombia defeated Canada, 3-0.

* Today’s game: Noon, Coliseum.

* Semifinals: Canada 1, Trinidad and Tobago 1 (Canada advanced after winning coin flip to break tie with South Korea); Colombia 2, Peru 1 (Colombia won game on penalty kicks, 2-1).


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