Posted on June 8, 2012
By Michael Lewis
HAVANA — If you think Cuba is a mystery for many Americans, just consider how little Canada knows about its CONCACAF Group B World Cup goes as it prepares for its Friday encounter.
Asked how much he knows about the Cubans, Canada coach Stephen Hart replied, “To be honest, not much. We tried to scout them, the games that they played. They sent an Under-23 team because the Olympic [qualifying] was a big [thing] for them. because preparing the Olympic team was bigger for them than this team. I will have to judge from Gold Cup and Digicel Cup and that was years ago.”
Outside of playing for the CONCACAF Gold Cup and World Cup starting in Caribbean competitions, Cuba does not play very many countries outside of this part of the world until they move on in the qualifying process.
So, the Canadians spoke in generalities when talking about their foes.
“We don’t know too much on the opponent, but we could imagine that they’re going to be very athletic, very quick,” De Rosario said after practice at Estadio Pedro Marrero. “It’s a big field, so we have to keep that in the back of our mind in approaching the game tomorrow – but we also have to play our game.”
Canada did defeat Cuba in World Cup qualifying at the stadium, a 1-0 win via a goal by Jason de Vos on June 4, 2000. In five qualifiers, the North Americans hold a 3-0-2 mark over Cuba. In the Gold Cup, they teams are 1-1, the last meeting a 2-1 victory for Canada in Foxborough, Mass. on July 12, 2005.
“We’re going to see a very athletic team, very fit and athletic,” Canada center back Kevin McKenna said. “We’re going to have to be patient. It’s going to be a game that will require a lot of patience. We’ve got to watch out we don’t get caught in the backdoor.”
Midfielder Atiba Hutchinson agreed, saying the Cubans would be “physical, athletic. Don’t know how they will be with organization. Maybe not the best. It’s always a difficult game coming to Central America.”
Actually, this is the Caribbean.
The game will be broadcast live on Sportsnet East, Sportsnet Ontario, Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Pacific. The telecast starts at 1:30 p.m. ET, 30 minutes before kickoff.
By 4 p.m. on Friday, Canada wants to have three points in its pocket before moving their sights to Honduras in Toronto on Tuesday.
“I think we’ll be there,” Hutchinson said. “A great start. I don’t really want to focus too much on the Honduras game at this point. If we come here and get three points and take that away wqould be huge for us.”
Photot: Kevin McKenna: It’s going to be a game that will require a lot of patience.”
Categories: Canada, Cuba, North America, World Cup Qualifying
Tags: Atiba Hutchinson, Jason de Vos, Kevin McKenna, Stephen Hart, World Cup qualifying