Home Canadian Soccer Hart ponders “subtle” defensive shuffle for key World Cup qualifier

Hart ponders “subtle” defensive shuffle for key World Cup qualifier

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Nana Attakora
Canadian national men’s coach Stephen Hart says he may make some “subtle” changes to the team when it faces St. Kitts and Nevis in two World Cup qualifiers, Friday on the Caribbean Island and Nov. 15 at Toronto’s BMO Field.

In training sessions ahead of Friday’s match (which will be streamed at sportsnet.ca begnning at 7 p.m. ET), Hart has moved Mike Klukowski from the left side to a centre back slot, and moved Adam Straith out from the centre to the right side.

He’s not sure if he will employ it Friday or not, but he does want to try it in one of the two matches.

Canada just needs a point from the two games to clinch its spot in the next round of the CONCACAF qualifiers. So, if Canada wins or draws on Friday, Hart would be free to experiment in the game at BMO Field, which becomes a de facto friendly.

“I’ll wait and see what happens (in the first match),” said Hart in a conference call Thursday. “At this point I haven’t given much thought to the second game.”

That second game could also give two young defenders time to get into the flow of the national team. After Toronto FC teenager Matt Stinson couldn’t recover from injury in time to make this Canadian camp, his ex-teammate, Nana Attakora, was called in as a replacement. Attakora, the one-time top defensive prospect at TFC, was traded to San Jose earlier this season. This call-up is a chance for Attakora to get a career back on track. He has played a total of 19 minutes for the senior squad — and while his call-up was a surprise, the situation may allow him to get some playing time. Same goes for TFC fullback Ashtone Morgan, who got his first call-up and first senior cap in the previous cycle of games.

Hart has had to tell both players to relax.

“He’s done well, he’s very excited to be here,” Hart said of Attakora. “I told him to just relax, to work himself in.”

And Morgan, who has been training in TFC’s post-season, but has been showing a little rust, and was having what Hart called “some difficulty” adjusting to camp. Still, Hart said that if he can use Morgan in one of the games — or both — he will.

“I talked to him a little while ago, to settle down.”

St. Kitts and Nevis could nip Canada for top spot in the qualifying group, but it has to win both games. Hart said Canada must guard against a team that is physical, and very quick up the wings and at the striker position.

Look out for striker Ian Lake — who has scored in each of the last three matches for St. Kitts and Nevis.

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