With his side just days away from their Gold Cup opener against Martinique, Canadian interim head coach Colin Miller sees a lot of similarities between his opponents and his own team.
Both teams will likely chase Mexico and Panama in Group A and their best hope to advance to the quarterfinal is as one of the two best third place teams. Therefore, Canada hopes could all depend on the outcome of Sunday’s game at the Rose Bowl.
“(Martinique) may look at us and say we’re the one they’ve got to get three points against us, so I think it’s a tough group. There’s no question about that,” Miller said in a conference call on Thursday. “I’ve said it from day one. I think we’ll give the same respect to every opposition. It will be a difficult fixture for us, but, likewise, it will be a difficult fixture for them.”
Martinique beat the Portland Timbers U23 team 2-1 last Saturday, but Miller says apart from a few video clips and reports, there isn’t much known about their opponents. As a French overseas department, Martinique does not have official FIFA membership, but the Canadians have been able to glean some bits of information. And they will be well aware of Martinique striker Frederic Piquionne, who plays for the Portland Timbers alongside Canada captain Will Johnson.
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Regardless of the lack of scouting, Miller said Canada is in no position to worry about their opponents. The priority at this point is focus on their own performance. Arguably, the match against Martinique presents the best opportunity for MIller to blood some of the younger players called in for the tournament -- including Vancouver's Russell Teibert and Toronto's Ashtone Morgan and Doneil Henry -- but he's not quite prepared to unleash a full-blown youth movement yet.
"They're coming from their own club environment where they're fairly comfortable, now they're coming into a national team environment where it's a step higher, obviously," Miller said. "So to throw a full team of young lads into the fixture against Martinique wouldn't be the right away to go."
Still winless in 2013, Canada only mustered a 1-1 draw against the Ventura County Fusion on Tuesday but Miller warned that no conclusions should be drawn from the outcome of that game.
“The outlook for that fixture was to get every player in the camp at least 45 minutes of playing time and we managed to do get through that,” Miller said. “Each goalkeeper played 30 minutes and that’s all the exercise was for. Anyone that reads into the result of that game too much would be very foolish.”
The team has been training in Oxnard, California. They travel down to Los Angeles on Friday and will have one final training session at the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon.