Hart claws and scratches with clubs so he can put together small 17-player Canadian roster

Samuel Piette: Teen gets the call

When the Canadian men’s national team faces Armenia next Wednesday in Cyprus, it will bring a squad of just 17 players. Meanwhile, the Armenians will bring 31 players.

And, Canadian coach Stephen Hart admitted in a conference call Thursday that he had to scramble to ensure that he got as many as 17 players committed to the roster for the friendly.

“Putting the team together was extremely difficult,” said Hart. “Injuries are one thing, having do deal with clubs that are in promotion fights or whatever. It’s been very difficult.”

So tough, in fact, that some of the clubs had asked Hart what time on the 29th that Canada was scheduled to play Armenia, so they could make sure that they would release their players exactly 48 hours before the match as stipulated in FIFA regulations.

“There was really a lot of pressure from the clubs,” said Hart.

Armenia is bringing enough players that it can play a friendly against Serbia the day before it plays Canada. With Serbia on the island, the Canadian Soccer Association did inquire about the possibility of a friendly with them, as well. But when Hart asked the clubs if they’d lengthen the releases of the Canadian players, he said he was rebuffed — and any plan for a Serbia match was off.

Hart had previously said that he wanted to only take European-based players, and leave the MLS players at home. But his midfield was so short, his hand was forced — and he made the call to Toronto FC’s Julian de Guzman.

As well, teenager Samuel Piette — who is with French side FC Metz — will get the chance to earn his first senior cap. And defender Nana Attakora, currently working out with Scottish side Hibernian, but without a contract after an unsuccessful trial with German second-divison dwellers FC Union Berlin, is also in the squad.

“I needed someone who could play centre back and right back,” said Hart. “Nana was in Scotland, and he was training on a daily basis and, by all reports, doing quite well.”

Of the European-based players, the most glaring omission is that of SpVgg Greuther Furth’s Olivier Occean, who simply can’t stop scoring since the second half of the German second-division season kicked off. Occean’s club is in the thick of a promotion battle — and Hart confirmed that Occean has “damage to his foot” and that the striker couldn’t train for two days after his last club match.

CANADA ROSTER:
Attakora, Nana | 1989 | Brampton, ON, CAN & Orangeville, ON, CAN |
Borjan, Milan | 1987 | Hamilton, ON, CAN |
de Guzman, Julian | 1981 | Scarborough, ON, CAN | Wexford
Edgar, David | 1987 | Kitchener, ON, CAN |
Haber, Marcus | 1989 | Vancouver, BC, CAN |
Hume, Iain | 1983 | Brampton, ON, CAN
Hutchinson, Atiba | 1983 | Brampton, ON, CAN |
Jackson, Simeon | 1987 | Mississauga, ON, CAN
Klukowski, Mike | 1981 | Oshawa, ON, CAN |
Ledgerwood, Nik | 1985 | Lethbridge, AB, CAN |
McKenna, Kevin | 1980 | Calgary, AB, CAN |
Pacheco, Pedro | 1984 | Ponta Delgada, POR |
Piette, Samuel | 1994 | Le Gardeur, QC, CAN
Ricketts, Tosaint | 1987 | Edmonton, AB, CAN |
Simpson, Josh | 1983 | Victoria, BC, CAN |
Stamatopoulos, Kenny | 1979 | Markham, ON, CAN |
Straith, Adam | 1990 | Victoria, BC, CAN |

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About Steven Sandor

I'm currently the colour commentator for FC Edmonton broadcasts on Sportsnet, NASL.com and TEAM 1260. I've covered the Toronto FC beat for four years, worked for the Edmonton Aviators of the USL for a season, covered the Edmonton Drillers of the NPSL and started covering Canadian World Cup qualifiers in 1996. I've covered the CONCACAF Champions League and the U-20 World Cup. I'm passionate about soccer in North America.