Hey, how did that happen?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

What happened? How could a group of girls that just finished fourth at the Women's World Cup play such a lame game?

How could a team which beat Mexico 8-0 here last year lose 2-1 to the Mexicans in their get-to-the-Olympic-Games game?

How could a country which is ranked 11th in the world, a nation which had never lost a game to a Central American country, look so lousy and lose this one to a team ranked 30th in the world?

Maybe it's not quite like the United States not getting to the Athens Olympics in baseball. But to many Canadians who had become smitten with many of these northern girls when they went to a golden goal in the final of the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships ,which sold out Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, it's in the ball-park.

What happened to the girls who took their nation on that mystical magical ride and then grew into the team which beat China to make it to the medal round of the Women's World Cup?

Even Pellerud's perplexed, puzzled, bewildered and befuddled Canadians turned into a disorganized disaster and gagged on the game against the team they'd defeated 10 out of 10 times before and to the combined count of 38-4 in goals for-against.

FAILED TO FIRE

Completely against what their past performance charts would have suggested, Canada failed to fire for the big game, turned to mush when it mattered most.

While they telegraphed the result the game before in struggling to score a 2-1 win over host Costa Rica in the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament, if anything you would have figured it would have scared them straight.

Pellerud, who had taken Norway to World Cup and Olympic titles in the past and believes he can do the same with this exceptionally young team in 2007 and 2008, said he was mystified.

'' This is not my team. That was the biggest disappointment,'' said Pellerud. ''We can lose to Mexico in the right circumstance, but we should never lose the way we did.

"Mexico didn't do anything to surprise us. As a matter of fact they really didn't play a good game. We just underperformed. We didn't play well.

"It's not a performance we're proud of.

"We were very surprised with our poor start to the game,'' he said.

"We did everything to prepare for what Mexico does and doesn't do. But we didn't get it done on the day.''

Unable to cope with a 58-kilometre-per-hour wind which took their long ball game away, and unable to bring the ball up with skill on the ground, Canada coughed on sputtered, unable to play the go-go-girls' attacking game which is their trademark. With a lineup full of yellow cards, they lost a great deal of their aggressive game as well. But it was on defence where they came unzipped.

DEFENDERS FLATFOOTED

Maribel Dominguez caught three Canadian defenders flatfooted in the 25th minute and jumped on a deflection by another to make it 2-0 in the 60th minute.

While 16-year-old Calgary sensation Aysha Jamani scored her sixth goal in four games in the tournament, it came 83 minutes in and was too little, too late.

''I don't understand why it happened. We woke up, but we woke up too late,'' said Pellerud.

Canada qualified for the 2003 Women's World Cup by beating the Mexicans 2-0 in Seattle in the same sudden-death scenario.

"Our team is devastated,'' said Pellerud.

"There are some players on our team who realize this could be their last chance,'' he said of making it to the five-ring circus.

Veteran Charmaine Hooper, who has played 115 games for Canada over the years, who switched positions to become a defender for the World Cup, played the first three games of this tournament as a midfielder, was ineffective returning to her old position up front in this game.

The other longtime Canadian, Andrea Neal, was substituted for after the first half. Ironically, in previous years the Olympic berths went to the top seven teams in the World Cup plus the host nation. Canada would have been back in the fall.

But for Athens, qualifying tournaments were put in place.

Mia Hamm and the Americans beat Costa Rica to punch their ticket for Athens.

And what does this mean for the planned but yet to be confirmed June 30 Olympic bon voyage game between Canada and the Americans at Commonwealth Stadium?

Will it be off now that Canada isn't going to the Olympics? Or will the Americans want to use it as a preparation game?


Videos

Photos