Insanity, it is said, is the act of performing the same action over and over again and expecting different results.
Stephen Hart, head coach of the Canadian men's national team, has been criticized over his three-year tenure for often deploying stiff, unimaginative tactics that have led to some tepid results.
The crowd's roar during Canada's recent run of form in World Cup qualifying has drowned out some of those dissenting whispers, but all eyes will be back on Hart this October to see what he will come up with when the Canucks play a pair of games that come with a myriad of challenges.
A pair of good results - against Cuba and Honduras - and Canada could advance to the next round of World Cup qualifying. Poor performances, like the most recent 2-0 drubbing at the hands of Panama, and Canada will slip back into the depths that they have been stewing for the last decade.
Hart, for his part, is not deflecting any of the blame.
"I don't want to make any excuses, we lost," Hart told reporters. "The recovery of the team, the preparation of the team, everything - it stays with me. It's my responsibility. The buck stops with me. The players did their best. That's all I ever ask of them."
Unfortunately for the Canadians and Hart, all the work and preparation did little to guard against an onslaught of attention that the Panamanian fans paid to the visitors when they arrived there earlier this month. The Marea Roja, as the Panamanian supporters are known, camped outside the Canadian hotel for two days, letting off fireworks and blasting music well into the night.
The Canadians would put on a brave face the next day but following the loss Hart would admit that most of the players only got two to three hours of sleep each night. It's a treatment they are sure to receive again when they travel to Honduras for the final game of this group stage.
When asked what they would do differently after Panama though, Hart was evasive.
"I have never seen anything like Panama, so I can't really answer that question," he said. "I have witnessed some street stuff before in Honduras and in the past, but nothing like what was done in Panama."
That's not to say Hart is going to allow the same mistakes to happen again however.
"We are and will be taking a number of precautions along those lines but I don't want to talk about it for obvious reasons," he said.
On the pitch, Canada faces a number of issues as well - the most pressing of which is injuries.
Canada was already missing Dwayne De Rosario and Josh Simpson from their attacking core when Olivier Occean went down in a club match last weekend. Occean limped off under his own power but has yet to return to action with Eintracht Frankfurt.
Hart told reporters that he had spoken with the 30-year-old striker earlier this week and confirmed that, while his medical staff was still treating the injury, he was confident of his return before their Oct. 12 match against Cuba.
"I expect him to play, but of course that will depend on the medical team at his club," said Hart. "He told me they are working on him on a daily basis. He missed a mid-week game. We'll see what happens on the weekend."
Assuming Occean will be back, Hart is still faced with several tactical questions ahead of Cuba. Marcel de Jong will now likely replace De Rosario in the midfield, who had been playing out of position for the injured Simpson. De Jong, who hasn't factored much for Canada since his own knee injury last fall, will force Canada into a new look throughout the middle of the park - one that could be welcome after their predictability in Panama.
Hart will have the Cuba game to get it sorted out but he stressed the squad is not looking past the Cubans, who have yet to win during this round.
"They might be out of the running, but they're also preparing for a tournament to get to [the] Gold Cup and they're playing for pride, they're a very proud people," Hart said. "I think they will come to show that they are a team that probably could have done better, or are better than they have presently shown."
Following their performance in Panama, Canada will be looking to do the same.
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