As his players solemnly walked off the field humiliated and defeated in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on Tuesday, Stephen Hart knew the writing was on the wall.
Speaking in one final conference call with media on Friday, the former Canadian national team head coach talked about the team’s disastrous 8-1 loss to Honduras in a situation where a draw would have seen them advance to the Hexagonal for the first time in 15 years.
Hart offered his resignation on Monday and departs with the second-most wins as head coach in Canadian history and the highest winning percentage. But he admitted that the debacle in Central America this week will likely be his legacy with fans.
“This freakish result was impossible for me to accept, especially after outplaying the same opponent at home and we could have easily walked away 4-0 at that time,” said Hart, who said he was the one who called Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani and told him that it was best if he stepped down.
Hart said he still doesn’t know what happened to his team in his final game other than “a series of things that came together,” but he did say that after the game, a number of players approached him and were apologetic over their performance.
Over the past few months, Canada’s lack of depth came to the forefront as some big-name players were forced out due to suspension and injury. And it was never more evident on Tuesday.
It’s one thing Hart says Canada needsto improve on in order to have a hope of getting back to the Hex and perhaps, one day, the World Cup as well.
“We lost, in a year-and-a-half, Ali Gerba, Josh Simpson, Dwayne De Rosario and Olivier Occean, and it’s very hard to replace that attacking impetus,” he said. “It’s not one-for-one swaps there.”
When asked if he would want to help the CSA in some way in the future, Hart said he was willing. The Trinidadian native vacated the technical director position in 2009 when he was named coach of the men’s team.
The CSA has been without a technical director since then but has said a new one will be named before the end of this month.