Home Global Game CONCACAF Hart gives us his post-mortem on Canada’s first two Group C matches

Hart gives us his post-mortem on Canada’s first two Group C matches

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A couple of days worth of reflection haven’t softened Canadian national team coach Stephen Hart’s opinion of the last two World Cup qualifiers. It’s clear that he feels that Canada squandered a chance to be tied with Panama atop the CONCACAF Group C table, that Les Rouges should have six points from its first two matches, not four.

“Not only missed chances,” said Hart of Tuesday’s 0-0 home draw with Honduras, “But we failed to make the keeper work.”

But Hart said the problem wasn’t the system or the personnel. Canada scored just once (but didn’t surrender any) in its friendly against the United States, win over Cuba and draw with Honduras.

“It’s a matter of players hitting form at the right time,” said Hart. “It’s not an issue of not playing well or not creating chances.”

And Hart knows that, to get out of Group C and an opportunity for maximum points at home already lost, Canada will need results in either of its next two road matches, in Panama or Honduras.

“You are going to have to get points away from home. Nothing has changed. We have just made it a little harder on ourselves.”

Canada’s next two World Cup qualifiers go in September, with a home-and-home set with the Panamanians, who control the group. But Hart wasn’t awestruck by Panama, despite its perfect record so far. He felt that Cuba was unlucky not to salvage a draw with Panama. He said that the difference between Panama and its opponents is the play of one player — red-hot striker Blas Perez, who scored twice against Honduras. The FC Dallas man is in form right now. Will he be the same in September?

“Watching their games, I thought their games were very evenly balanced,” said Hart. “With Panama, they have a central sort of striker in top form at the moment.”

There is a window in August for a friendly, but it is just a 48-hour window and Hart noted that clubs are especially difficult about releasing their players through that August break.

Hart added that he did have a conversation with Josh Simpson, the Canadian winger who had his tibia, fibula and ankle broken in the final game of the Swiss league regular season. Because the injury is so severe, Hart and Simpson didn’t discuss national-team matters.

“I told him I hope he’ll recover, that he can get healthy and can continue to make a living and support his family through football,” said Hart. “I know what it’s like to be badly injured. You think that it’s all over. We didn’t talk about the national team at all.”


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