Canada fighting for respect with Gold Cup run

first_imgJohn Herdman couldn’t help but smile. It was seemed to be a moment, in a way, he’d been waiting for. Not the moment, but a moment, one where it appeared what he was trying to build with Canada was starting to take shape.It didn’t happen in a match or even on a field, but in a press conference room in the bowels of Bank of America Stadium as Canada prepared for the country’s third and final group stage match of the Gold Cup. They’d just lost a tight 3-1 battle to Mexico days prior.”We lost, but we learned,” Herdman said, a familiar trope. Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? But it was what defender Doneil Henry said that resonated just as much, if not more, than the performances thus far this Gold Cup. It felt like it mattered just as much as the 7-0 shellacking of Cuba that soon followed or the 4-0 smashing of Martinique that preceded it. “We end this path with respect, especially in Concacaf, changing the face of football in our country forever,” Henry sat up and stated with conviction. “My journey with the national team started at 18-19 years old when I got called into my first camp. The sense of professionalism maybe, the pressure to win [wasn’t there]. Now we have players playing at their clubs, top-level football, young signings who are exciting around the world.”We want to really take this seriously and put our country on the map for men’s football. I know what it’s like to play in Europe, and they look at a Canadian player as less than a footballer. My job is to help our country and leave this jersey in a better place when I’m done with the national team, knowing I was a part of changing the culture here.”One of the first conversations I had with John was about what the culture was like before, and I couldn’t tell him because we didn’t have a real mentality or anything that you would want to know about Canadian football. Right now, we know what we have here in this country and this is a great time and a great place to start showcasing what we can bring to international football.”Moments later, Herdman responded: “I think that’s what I envisioned, that someone could speak that passionately and clearly about why they wear that jersey. I’m not sure I’ve heard that before.”Canada Gold Cup 2019For the past several years, there wasn’t much reason to take pride in the performances of Canada’s men’s national team. They’ve been to the World Cup just once, in 1986. Since winning the Gold Cup in 2000, they’ve made it out of the group stage just four times in nine chances. Herdman’s predecessor, Octavio Zambrano, lasted less than one year on the job, leaving behind a program scrambling for some kind, any kind, of identity.Enter Herdman, who took the job in January 2018. He’d moved on to the men’s team after a seven-year stint with Canada’s women’s squad, widely regarded as one of the top programs in the world. He was given total control, from the senior men’s team and all national youth sides from the under-14 level.From the offset, his goal has been to build a culture, and that building process has coincided with rise of some of the top young stars in the country’s history. There’s Alphonso Davies, who made the move to Bayern Munich last year. There’s Jonathan David, who joined Lucas Cavallini in netting hat-tricks against Cuba. There are MLS stars like Mark-Anthony Kaye and Jonathan Osorio and European-based attackers like Junior Hoilett and Cyle Larin.The players are there, and they have talent, but the idea of hosting World Cup 2026 hangs over everyone’s head. All that’s needed is a plan, and Herdman believes moments like Henry’s statement and the ongoing Gold Cup run are pieces of a big puzzle that ends with one thing: respectability.”This isn’t just a day-by-day or tournament-by-tournament. We’re looking at 2026,” he said. “My federation made a commitment which was an eight-year contract. That’s the reality. When I signed for the project, you know as a coach that it’s fickle, and if I’m not the right man, then I’m not the right man, but I’m working my ass off and my staff are connecting this country.”We’ve been in every MLS club, every province, I’ve worked with every U15 player in the country. We’re doing things a little bit differently where we’re connecting our country in a way so that if I eject out tomorrow, I’ll know I’ve done something a little bit different and left it a little better than I found it.”Canada Gold CupThat path continues on with the Gold Cup. Canada’s victory over Cuba sends the team to the knockout stages, where they’ll face either Costa Rica or Haiti in the quarterfinal round. It’s a match that presents a benchmark for Canada. It also presents a chance to earn another look at Mexico, and Henry says Canada will “make it right” if they get another crack at El Tri.Knockout round success is the next step. If Canada ever hopes to catch up to the likes of the USA, Mexico or Costa Rica, or even teams like Panama and Jamaica, they’ll have to prove it in these types of situations. This is how you prepare for World Cup qualifying and this is how you earn respect on the international stage.Is the 2019 Gold Cup too soon for Canada? Maybe. Is there more work to be done before Canada can truly count themselves as a legitimate threat in Concacaf? Almost certainly. But Herdman says there is a level of belief in this program that better days are ahead, and they may not be as far away as many think.”I wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning if I didn’t believe that was possible. We just take it every game at a time. We work back from the final, and we’ve done our planning to see the USA in Chicago. That’s what a coach has to do. I have to look that far ahead and work back from that moment. It’s just a game at a time now.”He added: “If we are ever going to catch up or overtake Mexico or the USA, it’s got to mean more to us than them when we get into those big moments. A lot of people are clear on the meaning, and that really does galvanize the group. There have been some tough moments where we haven’t been able to cross that cavern, we just haven’t been able to cross that in the past. That’s clear, and we’ve got the talent, so there are no excuses any more.”last_img read more

Ban Kimoon encouraged by determined will of Arab leaders in seeking solutions

“I was able to see the Arab leaders engaging on many important regional issues,” he told reporters.Mr. Ban, who attended the Arab League summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and also visited Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territory, and Lebanon, noted that with the formation of a Palestinian National Unity Government, “the active diplomatic initiatives are on the way: Arab peace initiatives, Arab leaders who are determined to visit this issue again as a foundation for establishing a good relationship and peace between Israel and Arab countries, and particularly between Israel and the Palestinian authorities.”He was asked whether with the formation of the Unity Government by Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, the time was right now to lift a donors’ embargo imposed after Hamas, which does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, formed the Government alone last year.“There was an understanding among the Quartet [UN, European Union, Russia and United States, who are seeking a two-State solution] that we will wait and see how the National Unity Government, particularly Hamas, will perform in terms of all these international expectations,” he replied.“We hope that the National Unity Government will meet the expectations of the international community. When I had a brief meeting with the Foreign Minister Ziad Abu [Amr] of the National Unity Government he assured me that his government will continue to work to meet the expectations of the international community.”The Quartet has called on the Government to commit to non-violence, recognize Israel and accept previously signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. “Realistically speaking, again, I thought from my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Palestine, and the National Unity Government, that it may take time for them to make their own positions coordinated among themselves,” Mr. Ban said. On Somalia, where fighting between the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government and Islamists has led to dozens of deaths and injuries in recent days, he said he hoped the Government would be able to convene the national reconciliation congress scheduled for 16 April. “The international community should continue to encourage the Transitional Federal Government’s efforts,” he added.Mr. Ban also reiterated his call for an early resolution of the capture of 15 British marines and sailors whom Iran said it seized in Iranian waters. The British say they were patrolling in Iraqi waters.Of his talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motaki in Saudi Arabia, he said: “I requested and appealed to him that this issue should be resolved as soon as possible through political, diplomatic consultations. At the same time, I would hope that this rhetoric should be toned down.“It is not desirable in helping resolve this issue. As Secretary-General, I would again hope that we would be able to see some early release of these UK sailors. I know that there are many issues involved, but it would be desirable for the international community to see an early [resolution] on this issue, in a diplomatic and peaceful way,” he added. 2 April 2007Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon returned to United Nations Headquarters in New York today from a tour of the Middle East and said he was “encouraged by the very active support and determined will of Arab leaders” in tackling a variety of problems from the Palestinian issue to the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia. read more