USA, Mexico eye Tokyo Olympic berths in CONCACAF semifinals
The United States and Mexico will look to seal Olympic berths Sunday when they headline the semi-finals of the qualifying tournament for North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The United States men will take on Honduras and Mexico faces Canada in the semi-finals at Estadio Jalisco, with both finalists punching their tickets to the Tokyo Games.
Mexico emerged as winners of Group A with a 1-0 victory over the USA on Wednesday.
Both teams had beaten Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic in earlier group matches, making their clash one for group bragging rights only.
But it was a sobering moment for a US squad trying to get the country back into the Olympics for the first time since 2008.
“The next game is the one we have to win,” US manager Jason Kreis said after the Mexico defeat. “It’s all still there for us. Nothing has changed.”
The US-Honduras contest is a rematch of the October 2015 qualification game won by Honduras 2-0.
Honduras coach Miguel Falero said he expected a strong challenge from a US side determined to return to the Games, but Honduran midfielder Edwin Rodriguez was confident.
“Nobody wants to miss these big events like the Olympic Games,” Rodriguez said. “We have what it takes.”
Canada and Honduras played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday to finalize the semi-final lineups as Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Haiti were eliminated.
The Canadian under-23 side is hoping to make the Olympics for the first time. Their senior team reached the 1984 Games, but since age restrictions were put in place in 1992 they have failed to qualify.
They will face a stiff challenge from Mexico, the 2012 Olympic gold medallists who have won the CONCACAF qualifying tournament a record seven times.
“We know that the semi-final is the game that gets you to Tokyo,” Mexico coach Jaime Lozano said. “We will be focused on the next one.”
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