CHICAGO – Canada will have to come out of a very tough group if it hopes to make a run at its second CONCACAF Gold Cup soccer title this summer.
Canada was drawn into Group A with Mexico, Panama and Martinique on Wednesday.
Mexico is a regional power which has won six Gold Cup titles, including the last two.
Panama was the runner-up at the 2005 tournament and has a history of big results against Canada. Panama prevented Canada from advancing out of the group stage at the 2011 Gold Cup when Luis Tejada’s goal in injury time salvaged a 1-1 draw.
Panama also handed Canada a costly 2-0 defeat in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.
Martinique qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2006 Gold Cup with a win and a draw, but failed to win a game in either of its other two appearances.
Canada’s first game is July 7 against Martinique at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Canada faces Mexico on July 11 in Seattle and finishes the group stage July 14 against Panama in Denver. The last match is shaping up to be a crucial one, as Canada will have to finish at least second in the group to advance to the knockout stages
Canada won its only Gold Cup title in 2000 and finished third in 2002 and 2007.
Honduras, El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti are in Group B.
The United States, Costa Rica, Belize and Cuba make up Group C.
The final will be held July 28 at Chicago’s Soldier Field.