Late goals from Ian Bennett, Safwen Malala and Bila Dicko-Reynold scored a 4–2 comeback win over Haiti at the Kankaf Futsal Championship on Tuesday.
The result eliminated Haiti (0–2–0) and assured Canada (1–0–0) to advance to the knockout round. It was Canada’s third win in seven career games (2-5-0) in the tournament.
The two-time champions lost to reigning champions Costa Rica (1-0-0) on Wednesday in a Group C game led by Canadian head coach Keite Caledopoulos. The Ticos beat Haiti 7–0 on Monday.
The tournament, which runs from Sunday, will schedule four representatives from North and Central America and the Caribbean at this September’s FIFA Futsal World Cup in Lithuania.
The top two in each of the four groups advance to the quarterfinals, with the final four booking their tickets for Lithuania.
Down 2–0 in the half, Canadian Damian Graham defeated Haiti goalkeeper Steve Jonathas with 8:18 remaining, which is the corner of the net.
Bennett redirected a shot from goalkeeper Joshua Lemos, who joined the attack, with a 4:25 score remaining to stay.
The 19-year-old Sailor sent a shot through the legs of Jonathas to the winner in the final minute. Diko-Ryanoud sealed the victory with a goal in the empty Haiti net.
The Haitian were no strangers to the Canadians given in bulk to Team Hales with the Bloodline Haiti from Montreal.
Bernique Monfort and Michele Silva scored goals for Haiti.
Monfort opened the scoring for Haiti at 14:28 of the first half, taking a pass from Rich-Andy Jean-Pierre and sending a low shot down Lemos, who got the ball in hand but could not keep it out.
After Canadian captain Robert Renaud led Nicolas Bertrand to the goal, Saila took a 2–0 lead in the final seconds of the half second, blasting Leos’ left-footed free kick.
Jonath saved some time in the second half. He got some help, with Marco Rodriguez hitting the crossbar midway from the halfway mark.
Nazim Belugendouz came close with six minutes remaining, but comprehensively destroyed his straight free kick shot. Yonat then shut down Graham as the Canadian press.
Haiti finished eighth and last in its only other appearance in the tournament in 2008, when it was outscored 22–3 in going 0–0–0.
The 2021 tournament was originally scheduled for last May, but was delayed due to an epidemic. The French moved back to Guyana, Martinique and Guadeloupe in the interim, reducing the region to 14.
All games are being played at Domo Polideportivo, which hosted the 2000 FIFA Futsal World Cup.
The indoor futsal game is five-a-side with two 20-minute stretches. Whenever the ball goes out of play or there is a break in the game, the clock stops. Each team starts on the pitch with unlimited substitutions with one goalkeeper and four outfield players.
It is a high-energy physical game, with an asset premium and space with close control.
Canada came close to making the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, beating Cuba 7-4 in their final group game in the CONCACAF qualifier. The Canadians lost 3–2 to Costa Rica and defeated Curacao 7-4 before falling to Cuba.
Canada finished sixth at the CONCACAF in 2016. It finished seventh in 2012, its only other participation.
Costa Rica, Cuba, Panama and Guatemala represented CONCACAF at the 2016 World Cup.
Canada has not qualified for the Futsal World Cup since the opening ceremony in the Netherlands in 1989, where it failed to advance to the first round after defeating Japan and losing to Argentina and Belgium.
Brazil have dominated the world futsal scene, winning five of the eight FIFA World Cups. Spain have won runners-up to Brazil twice and three times. Argentina is the defending champion.
Seven Canadian players are returning from the 2016 CONCACAF Championship, including Brazil-born Freddy Mooijen. The 38-year-old won the Golden Boot in the 2016 qualifier with five goals in three games.
Angola, Argentina, Brazil, Czech Republic, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Paraguay, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Solomon Islands, Spain and Venezuela have already qualified for the 2021 World Cup with hosts Lithuania.
The qualifier for Asia was also discontinued due to COVID-19. The Asian Confederation has named Iran, Japan and Uzbekistan for the playoffs, featuring Iraq, Thailand and Lebanon vs. Vietnam later this month to determine the region’s final two spots.