With just two games to work with, newly appointed Canadian national team interim head coach Colin Miller is hoping to bring stability to a program in transition since being eliminated from World Cup qualifying contention.
The FC Edmonton head coach and former Canadian international is tasked with rebuilding a damaged program, still reeling from being unceremoniously dumped from CONCACAF qualifying in the penultimate round. The healing begins in earnest now, starting with preparation for this summer’s Gold Cup. Canada face Denmark in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 26 and then the United States on Jan. 30 in Houston.
“For me to try and come in and reinvent the wheel would be the wrong approach,” Miller told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday, a day after the Canadian Soccer Association announced his appointment. “What I'm looking for is two performances that will give people and fans and program a bit of stability.”
This month’s pair of friendlies marks Canada’s first action since they were routed 8-1 in Honduras in World Cup qualifying last October, a painful exit that saw former head coach Stephen Hart resign and the momentum the program had built up last year spoiled. Miller knows he has a lot on his hands in the coming months, even with the interim tag.
“I'm not a babysitter,” he said. “I'll come in there and put demands on players. It'll be hopefully two performances that will get us over that massive hump of not qualifying for [CONCACAF’s] final six.”
Miller’s squad for the two games will likely be released next week and the coach warned there may be more than a few unfamiliar names. Since the matches don’t fall on any FIFA international dates, clubs aren’t obligated to release players for international duty, making for a difficult task assembling the squad.
“You'll find it's a younger squad,” he said. Not that it hasn't been easy trying to get players released from their clubs as you can imagine. It's not ideal but it is a young squad.”
Asked as to whether he’s in the running to be the next full-time coach, Miller – also a former assistant with the Vancouver Whitecaps – reiterated that the CSA stressed the assignment was just for the two games and the discussion went no further than that. He added that once the national team camp, ends he’ll go back to focusing on his full-time job with FC Edmonton.