Home Canadian Soccer Coach Hart talks about Gold Cup, injuries and Mexico controversy

Coach Hart talks about Gold Cup, injuries and Mexico controversy

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Stephen Hart
Canadian men’s national team coach Stephen Hart took some time Friday to chat with the media ahead of Saturday’s Gold Cup match against Guadeloupe in Tampa, Fla.

After losing 2-0 to the U.S. in the opener of the regional championship, Canada looks to bounce back against the non-FIFA member island nation.

Hart on INJURIES: The coach is concerned over two players. He would not divulge the identity of either one. He said one was able to only train for 10 minutes Friday. The other got through the training session, but Hart didn’t think he’d be able to cope with a full international match.

On JULIAN DE GUZMAN: Toronto FC’s Designated Player sat out the opener with the U.S. due to injury, but Hart says JDG is ready for selection. “He trained the last two days, he looks sharp.”

On the CONDITIONS in TAMPA: (High of 33 C expected tomorrow, forecast calling for thunderstorms), “It is very hot, but it is hot for both teams… we know it will be hot tomorrow and the pitches we have been training on have been very dry.”

Hart speculated that the pitch could be very dry tomorrow, too — as CONCACAF has no edict that forces the hosts to water the fields before games. So, after the ball moved like it was in molasses on the temporary grass surface in Detroit, it could be fizzing around on a quick, hard pitch on Saturday.

On GOALKEEPING: Hart said he will “make that decision tonight” on whether or not he will stick with Lars Hirschfeld in goal or go with Milan Borjan. Hirschfeld allowed Jozy Altidore’s weak shot to get through him for the Americans’ first goal in the opening game.

While Hart said he isn’t committed to one keeper over the other for Guadeloupe, he did answer “of course” when asked if he planned to use both keepers in the tournament.

“The position is up to fight for,” he said.

On MEXICO: On Thursday, the Mexican federation announced that five of its players had tested positive for banned substances. Because the players were identified after internal tests, and Mexico openly admitted to the positive results, there hasn’t been a harsh punishment handed down from CONCACAF. But El Salvador wants its 5-0 loss to Mexico vacated or even forfeited to it because two of those players, including keeper Guillermo Ochoa, played in that game. Mexico is blaming the positive results on tainted food.

“I don’t know enough about it,” said Hart. “I’m reading about it just like the media.”

In fact, he seemed to show some sympathy for the Mexicans, who the Canadians could face later in the tournament if they advance from the group stage.

“As a competitor, you always want to play against the best,” said Hart. “If five players are missing, you aren’t playing against their best.”

And, he doesn’t believe this is an indication of more doping in the sport.

“In recent tournaments, we haven’t seen that this is a consistent pattern.”

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