Canada announce Belarus friendly, name Tony Fonseca interim head coach

Tony Fonseca and Stephen Hart

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The Canadian national team will continue its preparations for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup with friendly against Belarus on March 25, the Canadian Soccer Association announced on Thursday. The match will also be in Qatar, where the Canadians will face Japan in a friendly three days earlier.

While the Japan game will take place at the Khalifa International Stadium ­– one of the projected host venues for the 2022 World Cup – the Belarus game will take place at a smaller facility, Aspire Stadium.

The squad will assemble in Qatar for a brief camp in advance of the games starting this Sunday.

With the search for a new full-time head coach still ongoing, CSA technical director Tony Fonseca (above, center) will be stepping in as interim head coach for both games.

“This camp represents an opportunity to reintegrate our European-based players as we take on two very difficult opponents in Japan and Belarus,” Fonseca said in a statement. “These two matches will be an important platform for our continued preparations for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup and beyond.”

Fonseca was an assistant under former head coach Stephen Hart, who resigned after Canada’s disastrous 8-1 loss in Honduras in October that spelled the end of their World Cup qualifying campaign. He also was the head coach of Canada’s Under-23 team that reached the semifinals at the Olympic qualifying tournament last year.

Canada opened the year with a 4-0 loss to Denmark in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 26 and followed that up a few days later with a 0-0 draw against the United States in Houston.

CONCACAF announced on Wednesday that Canada were drawn into Group A at this summer’s Gold Cup along with Martinique, Mexico and Panama.