Canadian head coach Stephen Hart thinks the game of soccer in Canada has reached a turning point, specifically that fans of the game are now getting behind the national team more than ever.
For years, the Canadian men’s team regularly played home games that were anything but as visiting support usually outnumbered the home crowds. Last year, Hart famously asked Canadian supporters to “Taste the Soup” when it came to coming out to watch the national team, and he thinks the turnout at Canada’s two home games in June is a sign that things are catching on.
“I think really and truly we had a very nice crowd for the two games we had at home – the US game and the Honduras game,” Hart told Canadian media in a conference call on Thursday.
“It was a pro-Canada crowd. I think those fans have bought in and will be back. Hopefully those two games attracted enough attention to push us along against Panama.”
September can’t come fast enough for Canada – it’s the month which could make or break their ambitions of making it to the Hexagonal as the road to the 2014 World Cup continues.
Canada earned four points from their first two games back in June and would certainly be happy if they could match that in two games against group leaders Panama next month. The two teams take to BMO Field in Toronto on Sept. 7 before heading down to Panama City for a game at the Estadio Rommel Fernandez just four days later.
Hart admitted he has pretty much everyone he wants in his squad available for next month’s crucial double and hopes to announce that squad next week. He also feels his players and staff are about as prepared as they’re ever going to be.
“We know the team quite well,” said Hart, who admitted that he feels Panama is the strongest team in the group and one of the most consistent teams in CONCACAF over the past few years.
“Basically they are a very disciplined team that’s sort of grown up together and they arguably two of the better strikers in CONCACAF. They haven’t strayed much from that so we know what to expect from them.”