LIMASSOL, Cyprus – Though it was neither the performance nor the result they were hoping for, the Canadian men’s soccer team are at least happy they were able to get 90 minutes of game action together on Thursday in the wake of a 3-1 loss to Armenia at Tsiriol Stadium in Limassol, Cyprus.
Canada last played in November, when they beat St. Kitts and Nevis 4-0 at BMO Field to conclude the second round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. There are only a few opportunities to get the team together to prepare for the first game of the next round against Cuba.
“I’m glad we played the game,” said Canada head coach Stephen Hart, who was noticeably unhappy with the performance. “The first half, we did OK for about the opening 30 minutes of the game, and then it was a matter of keeping proper possession of the ball and basically giving them the chances that they had. We knew that they would come forward in the second half.”
With only two short training sessions before the game, Canada were always facing an uphill battle in terms of cohesion. In Armenia, they faced a side that had 31 players in camp and had much longer to prepare.
Fortunately for Canada, when the games that matter in June approach, they’ll be able to assemble for longer.
“To spend more time together and get to know each other again and be around each other every day — it’s a lot better when you’re there for a longer period of time,” remarked forward Iain Hume. “We’ve been here since Sunday in ridiculous conditions. It’s been monsoon weather.”
Canada’s first training session on Monday took place before the full 18-man squad had assembled from their various club teams, and the second session was delayed by lightning and hampered by heavy rains, wind and even occasional hail.
“Maybe the guys were a little bit tired from the flights and everything and the season, so we’ll be ready for the World Cup qualifications,” said starting goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
Canada’s first game of the next round of World Cup qualifying takes place in Havana against Cuba on June 8. To prepare, they have organized a friendly on June 3 at BMO Field against the United States. They have also spoken about lining up another game.
In the third round of World Cup qualifying, Canada are in a group with Panama, Honduras and the aforementioned Cuba.