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Hart’s Canadian side besieged by hail, rain in Cyprus

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In his time as Canadian national men’s team coach, Stephen Hart has had to struggle with European club coaches who don’t want to release their players, players who refuse to represent Canada and the difficulty of bringing players from far-flung spots in the world for Canadian games and camps.

But, on Tuesday, he added Mother Nature to his list of adversaries.

The skies opened up in Cyprus Tuesday, bring a mix of rain and hail — forcing Canada to adjust its training routine ahead of tomorrow’s friendly with Armenia.

“There was a fair amount of hail,” said Hart in a conference call. “And you have to wait until the hail melts before you can go out on the field, or else someone can roll an ankle.”

Fourteen of the 18 players on the Canadian players on the roster for the friendly arrived Monday. But European club commitments prevented Simeon Jackson (his Norwich City side faced Manchester United on Sunday), Atiba Hutchinson, Pedro Pacheco and late roster addition Rob Friend from being able to take the field until Tuesday. So those four have had very little time to prepare for the friendly, and Hart said he would assess those players on Wednesday.

With clubs only needing to release players 48 hours before an international match, Hart said he knew there was no time to really work on things.

“The most important things for us is to play the game, to play against some good opposition,” he said.

And it looks like Canada will face Armenia’s A squad. Armenia had scheduled two friendlies for its trip to Cyprus, and brought a squad of 31 players to cope with the fact it would play two matches in two days. Hart watched Serbia beat Armenia 2-0 Tuesday, and said that the Armenians used a squad of U-23 and U-21 players against the Serbs. So, he expects to see most of Armenia’s senior squad in uniform against Canada.

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