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Canadian National Team Manager Stephen Hart was in Toronto last week for a number of reasons. To be at Canada’s 100th anniversary kit launch and to take part in the National Soccer Coaches Conference at University of Toronto this past weekend, but most Canadian soccer fans certainly wanted to know about the work he is doing in trying to convince a couple of Canadian born players to suit up for the National Team and the chances of qualifying for the World Cup in 2014.
First issue is qualifying. Round 3 of World Cup Qualifying has been a stumbling block in the past and this time around will not be a cake walk through CONCACAF that’s for sure. If you remember their first two matches of this round of qualifying for South Africa it was not pretty. A 1-1 draw against Jamaica at BMO Field and a loss to eventual World Cup qualifiers Honduras at Saputo Stadium, put Canada behind the eight ball after two home games. Certainly not the start Stephen Hart wanted.
He knows and stresses to this day the importance of taking full points at home due to the challenges of playing on the road at these smaller, intimidating Caribbean nations. We find ourselves lumped in once again with Honduras along with Panama and Cuba. No easy task, but I am almost convinced this next stage will be the biggest challenge for Canada. If we can get through to the final round I think you may see the players I was talking about jump on the big Maple Leaf bandwagon it hopes of going to the World Cup. More on that in the next two days.
I certainly think Canada is good enough to finish in the top 4 of that round and with FIFA allotting 3.5 spots to our region. Let’s give USA and Mexico spots as I don’t expect them to play poor enough not to qualify that means Canada will be battling it out against Caribbean nations for the 3rd and the .5 spot. Is it out of the question to think we cannot qualify against countries such as Jamaica, El Salvador, Costa Rica, etc? Even if we do finish 4th CONCACAF now plays off against Oceania for that spot, which I would assume would be New Zealand. I think it’s very possible Canada can beat them in a home and away series. There you have it! Haha if it was only that simple. This is a tremendous challenge for Stephen Hart and his national team staff, but one, after talking to him, he is fully capable of.
On Thursday and Friday, I will discuss potential Canadian players Jonathan de Guzman and David Hoilett respectively.
Lee Godfrey brings an extensive amount of soccer broadcast experience to GolTV where he is the host of the station’s original Canadian news program Extra Time.