TORONTO – Calling them “a wounded animal,” Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart knows Honduras will be a formidable challenge for his team on Tuesday at BMO Field (7:45 pm ET, Sportsnet).
In fact, it may be Canada’s most difficult test at home in the quest to advance to the Hexagonal.
“They’re a very good team,” Hart told the assembled media after the team’s training session on Monday. “There’s no doubt about it. They have good quality. They’ve had a lot of experience in key positions and they’ll be difficult.”
Honduras fell behind the eight ball when they lost their opening group game at home to Panama 2-0 last Friday. Hart said he got a chance to watch the video of the game and admitted the score flattered Panama.
“It was a more even balanced game than the score indicates. It was two special strikes by a very special striker,” said Hart, referring to FC Dallas’ Panamanian forward Blas Pérez. “Honduras, I thought, played very well they just didn’t finish their chances. Of course, they were playing at home and they kept coming forward and looking for the goal and the second goal was a result.”
That loss combined with Canada’s 1-0 win against Cuba means Honduras could fall six points back of Canada after just two games if they lose at BMO Field on Tuesday.
The word from the Honduran camp is that a second consecutive loss means head coach Luis Fernando Suárez’s job could be on the line, and the Canadians know they have an opportunity to turn the screw against what is one of the favorites to come out of Group C.
The Canadian players’ confidence was sky-high in training in advance of the game. Two straight clean sheets – one against the United States and then against Cuba last Friday – will do that to a team. But Hart emphasized over and over to the media that he had been telling his team that nothing has been accomplished and they simply cannot get carried away or they will be punished by their Central American counterparts.
“At the end of the day, we’ve only played one game and we have to be realistic,” Hart said. “I spoke to the players, they have to keep their feet on the ground. It’s one game and anything can happen, but you have to just take it game by game. I know it sounds cliché but that’s what you need to do.”