Yellow cards costly for O'Connor

DEREK VAN DIEST, EDMONTON SUN

, Last Updated: 7:26 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Tonight Canada will go into their biggest game without the services of one of their best defenders.

Kent O'Connor picked up his second yellow card in Canada's 1-0 loss to Austria on Thursday and is suspended for tonight's game against Congo.

The Vancouver native was also booked in Canada's opener against Chile.

And under FIFA rules if a player picks up two yellow cards in the first three group games he's suspended for a game.

"It's a loss," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell. "Kent has played a lot of games for us and he's done well. We'll miss him, but we feel we have guys that can step in and replace him."

Mitchell has not decided who will replace O'Connor at the left-back position tomorrow. It's possible Nana Attakora-Gyan could step into that role. The 18-year-old defender played the entire game against Chile but was a substitute in the Austria match.

"We're going to see who looks good in training and make our final decisions on the team (today)," Mitchell said.

O'Connor, 20, plays his club soccer with Munich 1860 in Germany. He has been a mainstay of the Canadian defence since April, 2006.

"It's unfortunate Kent has two bookings and can't play," said Canadian goaltender Asmir Begovic. "But it's a chance for one of the guys to step in and fill that void. It's a tough loss but we have guys that can come in and do the job."

Canada heads into tonight's game needing a win to keep their hopes of advancing into the second round alive.

Facing a talented Congolese side, the Canadian defence is expected to be busy this evening.

"It'll will be tough for whoever has to come in and fill that role," Begovic said. "But all the boys want to play, they'll be ready to play and this is an opportunity for someone to show what they can do on the big stage."


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