SOCCER-CANADA FANS PACK OUT BARS FOR COPA SEMI-FINAL

TORONTO (Reuters) - The line to get into downtown Toronto bar Rendezviews wound around the block on Tuesday as throngs of flag-draped Canadian soccer fans waited upwards of half an hour for a chance to watch their Copa America semi-final against Argentina.

Canadian fans knew their team were a long shot to beat Lionel Messi's side, but just making it to the last four was a victory, they said.

Amateur player Celina Levaglu has not been following the men's team closely and this was her first time going out to watch one of their games.

"I think they're the underdogs and they don't have anything to lose. And that's a good attitude to have going into a game," she said.

Michael Nguyen has followed the Canadian men's team on and off and said he thinks this is the best they have played.

"They have a chance. I feel you have to balance optimism with realism. ... I'm excited for the atmosphere," he added.

Canada went into the semi-final game against Argentina as underdogs after a 4-3 penalty shootout win against Venezuela on Friday.

Argentina, World Cup winners in 2022, are defending Copa champions and top the FIFA rankings, while Canada are ranked 48th in the world and are making their debut in the tournament.

The winner will move on to the final in Miami Gardens, Florida, on Sunday, meeting either Uruguay or Colombia, who play their semi on Wednesday in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow made an appearance, wearing a Canada jersey and taking a turn playing foosball, also known as table football.

"I always believe in the underdog," she said minutes before the game started. "We are strong. We are mighty."

Patrons belted out the Canadian anthem standing beside foosball and ping pong tables, some holding up Canada scarves.

Maria Wilson, originally from Argentina, came sporting a jersey and wearing blue-and-white face paint. She and her friends erupted when Argentina scored in the first half, and again early in the second when they went 2-0 up. 

"I'm also Canadian, so there's no way I'm losing tonight," she said. "I think Argentina (will win) but I don't want to jinx it."

Shania Balani does not consider herself a soccer fan but she waited for a spot in the heat to watch the semi-final. 

"Of course" she was cheering for Canada. But did she think they had a shot?

"I think they'll hold up at least 15 minutes."

(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

2024-07-10T01:59:56Z dg43tfdfdgfd