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Hume is confident that Canada will score more goals

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There’s no hiding the confidence that’s evident in Iain Hume’s voice.

The Canadian striker understands there has been criticism of the national side — that the two wins that opened the World Cup qualifying campaign, 4-1 at home to St. Lucia and 3-0 on the road to Puerto Rico, weren’t lopsided enough for Canadian fans. After all, in both games, Canada got some late goals to make those scores seem a little more one-sided.

“I know it’s disappointing to media and fans that we are not scoring more goals,” said the forward, who plays in England with Preston North End. “But we’re there.”

And what he means by being “there” is that Canada is creating a raft of scoring chances; the Canadians have dominated possession in both games. The forwards, himself included, need to do a better job in converting those chances. Canada will get the chance to do that when it travels to St. Lucia for its next qualifier, on Oct. 7

Hume did score in Puerto Rico, but knows that there could have been, should have been, more.

“Obviously fans expect us to stroll through these games,” said Hume, who was on a conference call with media on Thursday. “And we should comfortably win this group, but they (the Caribbean teams) will be no rollovers.

“It’s matter of killing games off — especially St. Lucia.”

Hume and his teammates know that the St. Lucia match should have been a blowout within the first 15 minutes. But, the teams went to the break deadlocked 1-1.

But Hume said many of the forwards, like himself, Norwich City’s Simeon Jackson (who can’t even get a spot on the bench at the moment), Tosaint Ricketts (playing in Romania) and Josh Simpson (who had his Turkish league season delayed by six weeks) are just in the early stages of their pro seasons; they weren’t at peak fitness for the first set of qualifiers. As the players get used to each other — the WC qualifying schedule allows the players to get together more often than they usually do from friendly to friendly — and get six or seven more league matches under their belts, they will get sharper. And the gap between themselves and countries like St. Lucia and St. Kitts and Nevis, which feature many semi-pros in their lineups, will widen.

As well, the players are still getting used to playing on-the-ground, passing soccer — something for which Canada hasn’t been famous in the past.

“It’s not a traditional Canadian style of football… but everyone is playing the 4-3-3, everyone is passing the ball.”

And a possession style suits a team a lot better than a direct, longball style when playing in the heat of the Caribbean. It’s far less tiring to have the ball than it is to chase it. The upcoming match in St. Lucia will be another chance for Canada to try and deal with hot, humid conditions — and will prepare them for later matches in Central America.

“Puerto Rico was a nightmare for us,” said Hume. “It was 30 degrees (C) at 8 o’clock at night. For us to go down there and control that game without much problem, it’s a testament to us and a testament to how we prepared for the game.”

As for Hume himself, at 30, he’s enjoying playing the game like never before. In 2008, while playing for Barnsley, he caught an elbow from Sheffield United’s Chris Morgan and had to come out of the match. The next day, he was in hospital — fragments from a fractured skull had caused bleeding on his brain. After life-saving surgery, Hume returned to action in 2009.

The Brampton, Ont. native will always have to answer questions about it.

But his answer on Thursday was a simple one.

“I personally think I’m at the best I’ve been for a long time.”

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