SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – In the aftermath of a Canadian implosion in the team's 8-1 implosion against Honduras on Tuesday, there have naturally been plenty of questions about just what went wrong.
Apart from two early flashes of offensive spark early in the game, Canada were demolished by a Honduras team that needed a win to move on and had the home fans on their side. Heading into the game, the players and staff both emphasized that the team looked good in training and the preparations were spot on.
After the game, however, they had to figure out what went wrong.
“It’s disturbing that the team fell apart,” Canadian national team head coach Stephen Hart said in the postgame press conference. “I’ve never been in this situation in my life so really it’s very, very disappointing.”
Prior to the game, Canada lost defender Ante Jazic to a cold that developed into a sinus infection. Captain Kevin McKenna also picked up that cold and played in spite of the illness, but Hart wasn’t one to offer excuses.
In the end, the coach will take responsibility for the team’s performance. It was the second-most lopsided loss in Canadian history and after Hart shouldered the blame, one journalist pointed out that he wasn’t out there playing.
To that, Hart replied: “But it’s my responsibility.”
A Canadian team hadn’t been this close to qualifying for a Hexagonal since the Canucks made the final round on the road to the 1998 World Cup, so it was a measure of unfamiliar territory. The question of mental toughness was front and center, especially given the pressure the team was under and the hostile atmosphere with more than 40,000 fans on hand here at Estadio Olimpico Universitario.
“I think the moment did get to the team,” said McKenna who, now 32 years old, likely won’t be around when the Canadians take aim at the 2018 World Cup.
“We could have and should have had it wrapped up before we even got to this game," the veteran defender added. "When you look back at all the games, I think that the Honduras game at home [in June], I said after that game that I hope this game doesn’t come back to bite us, and it did.”
With six months left on his contract, Hart was due to have a meeting with Canadian Soccer Association officials no matter the result. But after Tuesday's result, the coach admitted he's not sure what his future holds.
“I have to really sit down and think about this," he lamented. "Personally, I did my best, but with this result, I don’t think the country’s fans will forgive me.”