Zam­brano teaches Cana­dian team to be­lieve

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS -

FRISCO, TEXAS — Oc­tavio Zam­brano isn’t wor­ry­ing about which team Canada will face next at the 2017 CON­CA­CAF Gold Cup.

The na­tional men’s soc­cer squad ad­vanced to the quar­ter-fi­nal round with a 0-0 draw against Hon­duras on Fri­day night. That gave the Cana­di­ans a sec­ond­place fin­ish in Group A with five points (10-2) through the group phase.

Canada will play its quar­ter-fi­nal con­test Thurs­day in Phoenix. The Cana­di­ans won’t know who their op­po­nent is un­til group phase ac­tion ends Sun­day.

Not that it mat­ters to Zam­brano, the Cana­dian team coach.

“The most im­por­tant thing for us right now is us,” he said. “If we play like we have up to now, we’re on to some­thing.

“It’s more about us than the op­po­nent. I have seen im­prove­ments from game to game. The play­ers are em­pow­ered by the knowl­edge that they can play with any­one on equal terms.” Team cap­tain Pa­trice Bernier agreed. “The play­ers be­lieve that we can win and that is a good thing for this young group,” he said.

The Cana­dian team has con­tin­ued to ex­cel un­der Zam­barano, who has two wins and two draws since tak­ing over as head coach. “The most im­por­tant thing that I have seen is that the play­ers are be­liev­ing to get the power by know­ing they can play against any­body in equal terms,” he said af­ter the game with Hon­duras.

“Get­ting to that point has been quite the chal­lenge so what that does is that al­lows you to take a lit­tle bit more free­doms and risks as you de­velop.” Both teams had op­por­tu­ni­ties to score. Mar­cel de Jong, usu­ally a de­fender, started in an ad­vanced role on the left side and al­most put Canada ahead in the 23rd minute. Ju­nior Hoi­lett crossed from the right side and the ball was ad­vanced by de­fender Steven Vi­to­ria.

The left-footed de Jong struck his vol­ley off the post to the right of Hon­duran goal­keeper Luis Lopez. Hon­duras coun­tered with for­ward Ovidio Lanza’s header in the same minute that just missed high over the Cana­dian goal.

With a minute re­main­ing in the first half, Hon­duras again came close to scor­ing when Al­berth Elis’s header off a cor­ner kick beat Cana­dian goal­keeper Mi­lan Bor­jan.

But de­fender Michael Pe­trasso was able to clear the ball out of the air be­fore it could go into the net.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.