Vancouver, BC – Rachel Pelat and Randee Hermus of Canada women’s club soccer champions Surrey United of the Metro Women’s Soccer League, took center stage again Monday as they made the draw for the 2012 CONCACAF Women's Olympic soccer qualifying tournament.
Canada is the top-seeded team in Group A and was drawn to play in a group with Costa Rica, Cuba and Haiti in the eight-team tournament which will be held January 19 to 29 at BC Place in Vancouver. The top two teams advance to next summer's Olympic Games in London which will take place from 25 July to 9 August 2012.
In group B, 2011 Women’s World Cup Runners up USA will face Mexico, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. The United States, Canada, Mexico and Costa Rica are the favourites to represent the region that covers North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Fresh from winning the Jubilee Trophy, the annual adult women's club championship held in 2011 in Brossard, Quebec, Pelat who scored a goal in the Gold medal game against Royal Sélect Beauport said, “It was a great thrill to be asked to take part in such a high profile event. It’s been an incredible few weeks for the club, winning the national championships and now taking part in the draw. I hope that the local soccer community comes out in force to support the Canadian team and watch some high quality games”.
Former Canadian international Hermus, one of Canada’s most capped players participated in two FIFA World Cups in 2003 and 2007 and represented her country at the 2008 Olympics said, “I was lucky enough to represent my Country and I know that taking part in the Olympics’ was something that I always aspired to and was lucky to have achieved.” Hermus, who coaches Fusion U13 girls in the EA Sports BC Soccer Premier League added, “This qualifying tournament is a great showcase for women’s soccer and the players who will be desperate to book one of the two spots from this tournament”.
Head Coach of Surrey United Women Jeff Clarke said, “It was an honor for the girls to take part in the draw and represent our club on the international stage. They are great role models in terms of the type of players we develop in the local soccer community and we would hope that fan’s come out to support the next wave of great local Canadian players who will take part in this tournament”.
This marks the third edition of CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Tournament, held every four years since 2004. In 2008, the Canadian team went undefeated before finishing in second place behind CONCACAF champion USA, falling in the championship final on penalties. Canada still advanced to the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament for the first time where it reached the quarter-final stage. Once again, Canada’s nemesis was USA: the Canadians came within an extra-time goal of knocking off the eventual Olympic champions, but had to settle for an eighth-place finish.
In the most recent CONCACAF championship in November 2010, Canada was crowned continental winners ahead of USA (and runner-up Mexico). The four-top teams at the 2010 CONCACAF championship were Canada, Mexico, USA and Costa Rica. Canada and Mexico have both qualified for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament once while USA has qualified all four times, winning three gold medals and one silver medal.
London 2012 OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT DRAW
GROUP A: Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti
GROUP B: Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, United States
The full schedule of games are due to be published later this week.