PUEBLA, Mexico – Canada will play Nicaragua on Friday with the knowledge that a quarterfinal place in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship is at stake.
Whatever happens in Wednesday’s Group B clash between Nicaragua and Cuba, Canada can still advance.
Perhaps because of that, Canadian U-20 head coach Nick Dasovic isn’t getting too down about Monday’s 2-1 loss to Cuba, instead focusing on moving on in the competition with four places at the U-20 World Cup in Turkey later this year still up for grabs.
“It’s a bad result for us but we’re still in the tournament,” said Dasovic in the postmatch press conference. “That’s the bottom line. We have to regroup, be positive and move forward.”
Cuba was probably the better side over the 90 minutes, but Canada shaded the first half, certainly in terms of chances. But not converting those opportunities cost the northern team dearly when Cuba became increasingly dangerous after halftime.
Dasovic was at a loss to explain why his team fizzled out during the second half, hinting that fatigue may have been a factor.
“It was a very positive atmosphere at halftime,” he said. “It wasn’t a stellar game by any means. But we came out a little flat for some reason and they seemed to have a little more energy at that point.”
Tactically, Dasovic wants a little more nous from his players on Friday against Nicaragua, especially as they attempt to keep the game from becoming so stretched and open.
“Compactness, staying tight and taking care of the chances,” he said. “That’s pretty much what we’re looking for on Friday.”
Tom Marshall covers Americans playing in Latin America for MLSsoccer.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.