Herd­man aim­ing to build win­ning cul­ture

Calgary Herald - - SPORTS - NEIL DAVID­SON

TORONTO While he works on build­ing a win­ning team on the pitch, Cana­dian men’s soc­cer coach John Herd­man is also look­ing to knit his play­ers to­gether off it.

In the buildup to Tues­day’s CON­CA­CAF Na­tions League qual­i­fy­ing match against Do­minica at Toronto’s BMO Field, Herd­man had as­sis­tant coaches Ja­son deVos, cap­tain of Canada’s vic­to­ri­ous 2000 Gold Cup team, and Paul Dolan, a mem­ber of Canada’s lone World Cup team from 1986, speak to the play­ers on “the mean­ing of the shirt.”

He had of­fi­cials from the mil­i­tary speak to the play­ers “about the im­por­tance of their uni­form and the code of their uni­form.”

Herd­man also brought out a 1968 na­tional team jersey, from the first year the Cana­di­ans switched to their now iconic red from the pre­vi­ous blue.

“We’re start­ing to lay a real solid cul­tural foun­da­tion and open some things up that the play­ers may not have been ex­posed to be­fore,” Herd­man said Fri­day. “We know we have to deepen their mean­ing of what we’re do­ing and why we’re do­ing it.”

Cana­dian MMA fighter Elias Theodorou, ranked 13th among UFC mid­dleweight con­tenders, has also been lined up to speak to the play­ers.

At the team’s train­ing base north of Toronto in Al­lis­ton, Ont., the play­ers have a so-called per­for­mance room, com­plete with work sta­tions and tablets so they can study train­ing ses­sions and tac­tics.

The room also has video game con­soles and a ping-pong ta­ble to help the play­ers bond.

Given the list of Canada coaches since 2000 in­cludes Hol­ger Osieck, Colin Miller, Frank Yal­lop, Stephen Hart, Tony Fon­seca, Ben­ito Floro, Michael Find­lay, Oc­tavio Zam­brano and Herd­man, it is no won­der that the Cana­dian team cul­ture has been less than solid.

Canada, ranked No. 79 in the world com­pared to No. 177 for Do­minica, opened its CON­CA­CAF Na­tions League qual­i­fy­ing play with an 8-0 win over the No. 201 U.S. Vir­gin Is­lands.

Do­minica tied No. 153 Suri­name 0-0 in its opener.

The Cana­dian ros­ter in­cludes teenagers Jonathan David (KAA Gent, Bel­gium) Alphonso Davies ( Van­cou­ver White­caps, bound for Bay­ern Mu­nich), Alessan­dro Busti (Ju­ven­tus re­serves), Liam Mil­lar (Liver­pool FC un­der-23), Zachary Brault-Guil­lard (Olympique Ly­on­nais) and first-time call-up Bal­lou Tabla (FC Barcelona B team).

Tabla, a 19-year-old mid­fielder/ for­ward, was born in the Ivory Coast and came to Canada when he was eight. He had rep­re­sented Canada at the youth level but only re­cently de­clared his in­ter­na­tional al­le­giance.

Tabla left the Mon­treal Im­pact for Barcelona’s B team in Jan­uary.

The Do­minica con­test is one of four qual­i­fy­ing games that serve as an ap­pe­tizer for the 2019 de­but of a com­pe­ti­tion show­cas­ing teams from North and Cen­tral Amer­ica and the Caribbean. Even­tu­ally, the par­tic­i­pat­ing CON­CA­CAF coun­tries will be di­vided into three tiers with pro­mo­tion and rel­e­ga­tion.

The tour­na­ments are seen as a way to move away from mean­ing­less friendly matches and to en­sure all con­fed­er­a­tion mem­bers get mean­ing­ful games.

Costa Rica, Hon­duras, Mex­ico, Panama, the U.S., and Trinidad & Tobago, the six teams that made it to the fi­nal round of World Cup qual­i­fy­ing in the re­gion, will by­pass the one-off qual­i­fy­ing stage.

Re­sults from the 68 qual­i­fy­ing games will be used to seed Canada and the 33 other con­tes­tants into three tiers for the in­au­gu­ral edi­tion of the full CON­CA­CAF Na­tions League in 2019.

We’re start­ing to lay a real solid cul­tural foun­da­tion. We know we have to deepen their mean­ing of what we’re do­ing and why we’re do­ing it.

MARK BLINCH/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

John Herd­man has asked con­trib­u­tors on the coun­try’s vic­to­ri­ous 2000 Gold Cup team and Canada’s lone World Cup team from 1986 to speak to play­ers about “the mean­ing of the shirt.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.