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Canadian football history. 2000 Gold Cup semi final. "Canada is going to the final!"

Not sure exactly what has caught Stalteri's eye, but he doesn't look happy about it.
Not sure exactly what has caught Stalteri's eye, but he doesn't look happy about it.

After the coin toss, the comically inept penalty shootout, the rioting, and Canada's shocking golden goal defeat of Mexico, we now get to the semi finals, excitement guaranteed right? Well, no not really. With the US and Mexico out, the general public certainly lost it's interest, with crowds going from over 30,000 for one of the quarter final doubleheaders to a mere 3,402 for Colombia v Peru in the first semi final.

There's highlights of that game here, Colombia's opening goal is a delightful sidefoot volley into the top corner, an own goal unfortunately, but all the same a lovely finish that Faustino Asprilla himself would have struggled to match. More comedy Peruvian defending gave Colombia their 2nd due to what I'll politely call a breakdown of communication between goalie and defender. Peru got one back with what was genuinely a very good goal, volleyed in at the far post from the edge of the penalty box by Robert palacios, but it ended 2-1 and so Colombia made it into the final.

Of course, that all-invitee South American matchup meant that February 24th's semi between Canada and Trinidad and Tobago was for everything important besides the honking trophy. The winner would be the Concacaf champion, and get to go to the Confederations Cup the next year. That possibility certainly didn't bring in the crowds though, as only 2,841 saw this one. Canada once again named an unchanged starting lineup, as did T & T, meaning no Dwight Yorke to contend with.

You can get a very good report of the game here, actually there's two from the same guy on the same page, one from both teams viewpoints, how handy. The Canadian version details an emphasis on defence, but a willingness to get forward when the opportunity arose, and a few chances missed on top of the goal. The T & T version merely details all their chances and the heartbreaking goal against the run of play.

There's no denying T & T were the better team on the day, and this really was Craig Forrest's finest moment in a Canada jersey, Jason de Vos described 'Stacks' as standing on his head, Holger Osieck said "It was clear to everyone in the stadium that Craig Forrest saved the victory for us today," while T & T coach Bertille St Clair (more on this unfortunate soul later) said that "He was the difference between them winning and losing. Forrest's biggest moment came in the 35th minute when he saved a penalty from David Nhakid to keep the game at 0-0. Nhakid did the whole stutter step thing but Forrest didn't commit himself and ended up saving the weak shot.

It was one of those games where you realise all you'll need is one goal and it came in the 68th minute. After an overhit corner, Jim Brennan swung a cross back in from the left and Carlo Corazzin rose above his defender to head it back across goal. Due to what looks like a shockingly poor offside trap attempt, there were 3 unmarked Canadians on the edge of the 6 yard box, and Mark Watson took the chance to head the ball back across the goalie and inside the far post.

After that, T & T pressed, but only had the one good chance which Russell Latapy missed. See the last few seconds here, and just like in the game, the celebrations were all about Craig Forrest as he ended up at the bottom of a big pile. He's interviewed at the end of this clip, about 1:50 in, and it's brought up to him that in the final he'll become Canada's most capped goalkeeper. Generally, I don't really believe players who claim that that sort of thing doesn't matter, it's all about the team, but it really was the case with Forrest. Just the thought of Canada being in the final makes him get a little Verklempt and have to hide his face behind the interviewer who mercifully cuts it short before he reduces him to tears.

As for T & T coach Bertille St Clair, well despite this being their best ever performance in the Gold Cup, he was fired as soon as he got home. Getting to the semi final apparently wasn't good enough for everyone's favourite beacon of honesty, respectability and incorruptibility Jack Warner, who was quoted as saying "Canada was by far one of the weakest teams in the tournament," which is quite the statement for the head of Concacaf to be making about his new champions. St Clair was rehired as coach in 2004 less than 4 years later, with 5 other coaches coming and going in the mean time.

As for Canada, this victory meant they were Concacaf champions and moved on to the final against Colombia, where they'd once again be the underdog.