Zambrano era set to start for Canadian men
Canada plays its first competitive game under Octavio Zambrano on Friday when it takes on French Guiana to open the 2017 Gold Cup.
More demanding group-phase games await against Costa Rica and Honduras, but Zambrano is not about to take lightly the French territory nestled between Brazil and Suriname.
“They’re a good side,” the Ecuadorian-born coach said on the eve of the game in Harrison, N.J. “They have had to do something good to be in this tournament ... They are, I would say, the same level as Curacao. They have French players with Caribbean roots whereas Curacao has Dutch players with Caribbean roots.
“They are all legitimate players in the professional league in France and some local players. But they’re a good side. I’ve seen them on video. They have a good team.”
The Canadian men beat 68th-ranked Curacao 2-1 in a June 13 friendly in Montreal, Zambrano’s first game in charge since taking over the men’s program in March.
Canada scrimmaged against Nicaragua on Monday in Florida before flying to New Jersey.
“Even though the Curacao game was a good test, it really wasn’t enough,” said Zambrano. “We needed another one.”
Zambrano is eager to see his players under the Gold Cup spotlight.
“It is when you get the full measure of how a player will react in certain situations,” he said.