OLIVA, Spain — The Canadian national team got off to an indifferent start in their first game under Benito Floro as they played Mauritania to a frustrating scoreless draw on Sunday.
It was a game defined by physical play, as Canada's African opponents had no problem going in hard — in a few cases well after the ball was gone.
Just more than 10 minutes into the game, Toronto FC midfielder Kyle Bekker went down under a hard tackle and just a minute later it was D.C. United’s Kyle Porter, who went down under a very late foul.
It set the tone for the rest of the game, as there were a number of hard fouls and many words exchanged between both sets of players on numerous occasions.
FULL BOX SCORE AND MATCH STATISTICS
Floro with a very young Canadian lineup, resting several of his veterans to spread playing time across his entire roster. Only 18 players dressed and those that weren’t involved watched from the concrete stand that ran along the side of the field at the resort where both teams are camped.
It took a while for either side to really find their feet. Of the very few chances created by either side, the best chance of the game fell to TFC’s Jonathan Osorio, who linked up well with Vancouver's Russell Teibert and club teammate Ashtone Morgan.
In the 21st minute, Morgan fended off a challenge and got the ball out left to Osorio, who cut inside and unleashed a curling, right-footed effort that was just barely tipped over for a corner.
Six minutes later, the Osorio-Teibert tandem clicked as the Whitecap passed to his midfield counterpart on the left side. Osorio cut in and found Porter, who made a run toward the penalty spot, but his shot at goal was blocked.
Canada started better in the second half and dominated possession, but couldn’t find their breakthrough, as their African opponents seemed satisfied with a tied. The Mauritanians stalled at every opportunity possible, preventing any flow in the game.
Gavin Day covers the Canadian national team for for MLSsoccer.com.