TORONTO – By the admission of both Canadian players and staff alike, losing or even tying isn’t an option in Friday's World Cup qualifying clash against Panama (7:30 pm ET, Sportsnet).
For that to happen, though, someone is going to have to step up and convert, lest Canada keep up their unenviable scoring record, exemplified once more by the Canucks' scoreless draw in their last competitive game against Honduras in June.
But forward Olivier Occean is confident that won’t be a problem on this occasion. The Eintracht Frankfurt player scored Canada’s lone goal in their 1-0 win over Cuba but, like the rest of his teammates, couldn’t put away the glut of chances created against Honduras four days later.
“We need to be effective in front of goal,” said Occean after Canada trained at BMO Field on Thursday. “You need to score goals against Panama. It’s a big chance for us. It’s a beatable team. We can win and hopefully we can the three points.”
Occean certainly has no shortage of confidence as, after two games in the Bundesliga, his club is tied for first place with giants Bayern Munich.
It goes without saying that there’s a long way to go and the club more than likely won’t remain up there but at this stage of the game, it’s allowed Occean to come into camp with the national team with a bit of swagger. For his part, he’s hoping it will rub off onto his teammates.
“The winning confidence,” said Occean of what he brings to the table thanks to his early club success. “It’s good to win games. You keep positive and stay positive when you win games and hopefully with this experience I hope [Friday] to bring a positive experience with this team.”
Occean has every right to be optimistic that this time things will be different. Fellow forward Simeon Jackson scored for club side Norwich City against Queens Park Rangers in the English Premier League almost two weeks ago and Tosaint Ricketts scored impressively in a friendly against Trinidad and Tobago last month.
While Occean hasn’t been able to find the net yet this season for Frankfurt, he’s started both games and his team has scored six times in that span.There's no time like the present to get going on a scoring streak, because the alternative if they fire blanks isn't something they can afford to consider.