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Why Canada Are Dark Horses for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Canada

Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

With the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup now less than a week away, all 12 teams are putting the final preparations in place for a tilt at the title. The United States will fancy their chances of another win on home soil with a strong squad, and Mexico will be hopeful of defending their crown from 2011, but close rivals Canada have one of the best chances in recent times to add to the two trophies they won in 1985 and 2000.

The Canadians have not had the ideal build-up to this tournament, having not won at all in 2013 and are currently on a three-match losing streak. This poor form was enough to see them fall in the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, missing out on the Hexagonal by just one point behind Honduras and Panama.

However, this poor run of form that has seen them without a win since their 3-0 victory over Cuba on Oct. 12, 2012 could well spur them to success, with the Gold Cup being the only piece of silverware they can compete for with their World Cup hopes now dashed. Interim head coach Colin Miller will be determined for his players to give a good account of themselves, and the Canucks will be keen to reverse their recent form.

In addition to this, the Canadians have a relatively easy path to the knockout round, on paper at least. Their group contains a Mexican side missing many of its well-established stars, including Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez. Instead, the Mexicans will be fielding a squad that has earned just 105 caps between them, of which four players have never played international football.

Elsewhere, Panama will present a good test for Canada, but the memories of their 2-0 defeat in Panama City on Sept. 11, 2012 should be well behind them and they should have few difficulties with the team ranked No. 43 by FIFA. Their group is rounded off by Martinique, who finished fourth in the 2012 Caribbean Cup, losing to Haiti in the third-place playoff.

Then, if they reach the knockout stages, the Canadians can hope for a relatively comfortable draw in the quarterfinals, as they will face either one of the two best third-placed teams or the team who placed second in Group B, arguably the weakest in the tournament.

In terms of their own squad, Canada can call on a number of players who have plenty of experience at club and international level, playing in some of the top leagues in the world. In terms of caps, midfielder Julian De Guzman is their most experienced player with 64 matches played, and he will be complemented by the likes of Toronto FC youngsters Kyle Bekker and Jonathan Osorio in the middle of the park. Russell Teibert is also in a good run of form currently for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, so will be confident of replicating his MLS form for his country.

Having been released recently by Norwich, striker Simeon Jackson will also be keen to add to his tally of six international goals and give himself as good a chance as possible of being picked up by a new club on a free transfer.

It will not be easy for Canada by any means, but they should be confident of a good run in the Gold Cup, and could be a potential champion for the third time in their history.

Chris Teale is a British-American Soccer writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @chris_teale or view his writer’s page here.