Home Global Game CONCACAF Hart: Cuba, not Honduras, has got to be the focus of the CMNT

Hart: Cuba, not Honduras, has got to be the focus of the CMNT

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Everybody wants to talk about Canada’s upcoming World Cup qualifier in Honduras. It could be the biggest game this generation of Canadian national-team players will play — so far.

National team coach Stephen Hart has been asked question after question about how the team will fare in the hostile Central American environment. Story after story has been published about how Canada can’t wither in Honduras like it did in it most recent World Cup qualifying setback — a 2-0 loss in Panama.

Canada goes to Honduras on Oct. 16 — but there’s the matter of the Cuba match on Oct. 12. Canada will likely need four points from the two games in order to go on the Hex, the final round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying schedule.

But, if Canada doesn’t beat Cuba Oct. 12 at BMO Field — the whole plan goes awry. Hart, who spoke with the media Thursday as Canada released its roster for the two upcoming matches, said his team’s focus is solely on Cuba.

“It is you guys (the media) who are focused on Honduras,” said Hart. “My discussions with the squad after the Panama game were about Cuba. They continue to be that. It is a dangerous thing to play a game before it arrives.”

And that means Hart won’t rotate his squad to protect players on yellow cards — to ensure they’ll be available for the road date in Honduras. After all, the notion that Canada will likely need to get at least a point out of Honduras goes out the window if Canada doesn’t take the full points against Cuba at BMO Field.

“We’ve go to play the Cuba game,” said Hart. “We’ve got to go for the result, we’ve got to take risks.”

And Canadian fans shouldn’t take the Cuba game for granted. We should remember from Guadeloupe at the Gold Cup (Canada struggled to a 1-0 win) and a 2011 World Cup qualifying 0-0 draw with Puerto Rico that Canada has struggled against minnows in the past.

And it won’t be easy, without forward Dwayne De Rosario, who suffered a serious knee sprain in the Panama loss.. Striker Olivier Occean is training with Eintracht Frankfurt, but is recovering from a muscle injury. Striker Tosaint Ricketts is still waiting on his paperwork to clear from the Romanian Football Federation. And until that happens, the man who left Politehnica Timisoara over non-payment of wages can’t do anything but play training games for his new team, Valerenga.

In fact, Hart said that Lucas Cavallini, the offensive star of the U-23 team from Olympic qualifying who plays his club football in Uruguay, is still “under consideration.” That’s because any injuries suffered in this weekend’s club matches could force the coach’s hand.

CANADA ROSTER
1- GK- Lars Hirschfeld | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
2- M- Nik Ledgerwood | SWE / Hammarby Fotboll
3- FB- Mike Klukowski | CYP / APOEL
4- CB- Kevin McKenna | GER / FC Köln
5- CB- André Hainault | USA / Houston Dynamo
6- M – Julian de Guzman | USA / FC Dallas
7- F- Iain Hume | ENG / Doncaster Rovers
8- M- Will Johnson | USA / Real Salt Lake
9- F- Tosaint Ricketts | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
10- F- Simeon Jackson | ENG / Norwich City FC
11- FB- Marcel de Jong | GER / FC Augsburg
12- CB- Dejan Jakovi? | USA / D.C. United
13- M- Atiba Hutchinson | NED / PSV Eindhoven
14- M – Terry Dunfield | CAN / Toronto FC
15- CB- David Edgar | ENG / Burnley FC
16- M- Pedro Pacheco | POR / CD Santa Clara
17- F- Olivier Occean | GER / Eintracht Frankfurt
18- GK- Milan Borjan | TUR / Sivasspor
19- FB- Ante Jazi? | USA / Chivas USA
20- M – Patrice Bernier | CAN / Impact Montréal
22- GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK Fotbol

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