TORONTO – Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani is hopeful that he has found not just the right coach to lead Canada back to the World Cup, but also a visionary who can transform and evolve the country as a soccer nation.
That's the burden that falls upon Spaniard Benito Floro, who was appointed as the new head coach of the Canadian national team on Friday.
“We were very clear from the outset with respect to what we were looking for,” Montagliani said on Friday at a press conference. “We wanted someone with vast international experience and somebody who wasn’t just going to look at coaching 20 players as a specific project, but somebody who could really change the culture in this great country of ours and influence not only the men’s program, but also how we move forward in this game while working with our technical director Tony Fonseca in molding the future of Canadian soccer.”
Floro brings significant experience not only as a high profile club head coach in Spain and Mexico, but also as a Director of football for Real Madrid, as a member of the FIFA Technical Group at the 2012 FIFA Club World Cup in Japan and as a Professor of tactics and strategy of football at the National Spanish School.
“Benito is so well respected not just as a coach of a team from a player’s perspective, but also via his vast experience in coaching education and also his experience from when he was a sporting director at Real Madrid,” Montagliani said. “So he brings a lot more to the table than just being a coach. At this time in our country, the person [hired] needed to be not just a coach, but also a person that brought vast experience from all over the world.”
Asked why he was attracted to the position of Canadian national team head coach, Floro had a simple answer.
“Why not? Canada is a special country,” Floro said. “All of the people in Europe speak very well of Canada and of the Canadian people. When I came here to meet Victor, I gained a positive impression of his vision. I love real projects. Vision for me is a special word. It means all of your energy is focused on achieving a special goal. I think Canada needs more than just a vision to qualify for Russia 2018.”
Canada have been without a full-time head coach since last October, when the program was thrown into disarray due to the dramatic manner in which the national team flamed out of World Cup qualifying in its final match in Honduras. With that game still etched in the minds of the Canadian soccer community, Canada’s new head coach was pragmatic in stating how he wants the program to move on from that loss.
“To lose a match 8-1 is a special situation,” Floro stated. “It is impossible for me to know what happened, but it is in the past. Now we are starting another situation and we will do everything we need to in order to improve our level. The goal is win all of our matches – friendlies, official matches and even training matches.”
Asked specifically how the success of the new coach will be gauged, the CSA president stated that Floro will be evaluated on the progress that Canada makes in a number of areas.
“It is a results-oriented business,” Montagliani said. “You have to walk before you can run. The first object is to get into the Hex. You can’t get to the World Cup if you don’t get into the Hex. So that is step number one. Once you get into the Hex, as we have seen this year, anything can happen. Over and above the team, [his mandate] is also to work with our technical director to build a foundation for not only the next World Cup, but also many more World Cups moving forward.”
Nicknamed “The Philosopher” in his native Spain, Floro will officially start on August 1, but will attend the Gold Cup as an observer. He will manage Canada’s U-23 Olympic qualifying team in addition to the senior men’s squad. The Spaniard will be assisted by his son Antonio Floro Esteve and he is expected to round out his staff with a number of Canadian coaches.
“I hope to fulfill all the dreams of the country,” Floro said. “It’s very difficult but we are going to work towards that.”