No hex, just humiliation for Canada in World Cup qualifying | Soccer | CBC Sports

SoccerNo hex, just humiliation for Canada in World Cup qualifying

Posted: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | 09:53 PM

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Canadian players Edgar David, left, and Ledgerwood Nikolas, react during their crushing loss to Honduras in their final 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday. (Esteban Felix/Associated Press) Canadian players Edgar David, left, and Ledgerwood Nikolas, react during their crushing loss to Honduras in their final 2014 World Cup qualifying soccer match Tuesday. (Esteban Felix/Associated Press)

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Soccer analyst Nigel Reed writes that Canada's men's soccer team may as well have been a victim of The Hex when they were routed by Honduras in their final game of World Cup qualifying. All the good that was done in the months beforehand was tossed away in the blink of an eye.
Pick a team - any team. Choose your country and when the time comes, wave the flag with pride.

Perhaps Greece will qualify. That would keep my wife interested during the group stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The Greeks won't win it of course, but at least they'll get the chance to rub shoulders with the world's best for a few weeks.

Regrettably, that is more than can be said for Canada. Another qualifying cycle has come and gone and Canada has been downgraded to junk status.

We dared to dream. They led us a merry dance and convinced us to believe. The home victory over Panama was the high water mark and the incredibly one-sided triumph against an undermanned Cuba allowed us the luxury of guarded optimism ahead of the final obstacle.
But when it really mattered the players themselves did not believe.

The surrender in San Pedro Sula was nothing short of acute embarrassment. Few of us expected Canada to win a game in which a tie would have been sufficient, but the total annihilation in Honduras was utterly unacceptable.

Try as I might, I cannot get the word 'feeble' out of my head. Shockingly it sums up everything that needs to be said about Canada's capitulation. Losing with dignity, fight and spirit is one thing. Canada wasn't merely eliminated from the World Cup - it was exterminated. 

For the record Canada missed The Hex by one point. It might as well have been 10. All the good that was done in the months beforehand was tossed away in the blink of an eye. The goodwill of the fans, the growing media acceptance, and the very profile of the sport in Canada has been brought to an abrupt and crushing halt.

Stephen Hart has done his best. He did what he could with what he had. He dragged this team of hitherto willing workers to within 90 minutes of The Hex only for the wheels to come flying off. Hart is an honourable, likeable man but his position is now untenable. He must take his leave and stand down as head coach.

Time for a new chapter


He is not the only one. The next World Cup for Canada is now six years away. There is a lengthy list of players who must call it a day on the international stage and allow emerging talent to gain crucial competitive experience. Tragically, Dwayne De Rosario will join the likes of George Best, Ryan Giggs and many other fine individuals who never got to play at the World Cup.

It is time to turn a hugely painful page and begin a new chapter. Lars Hirschfeld, Kevin McKenna, Ante Jazic, Julian de Guzman, Patrice Bernier and Terry Dunfield have all served their country with pride and professionalism but these are all players who need to bring down the curtain on their international careers.

Canada craves credibility in international soccer yet remains a dot on the map when it comes to the beautiful game. The Canadian Soccer Association has a recently appointed soccer-driven President and wealthy new corporate sponsors. If the CSA is really serious about getting to the World Cup it is time to make a statement.

It is time to admit we do not have all the answers. If we did, Canada would be celebrating and getting ready for The Hex in 2013. It is time to take a leap of faith and go head hunting. The right man must have a successful track record in international football and command respect, not only from his players, but also from club managers wary of releasing their employees for Canadian duty.

It is an expensive gamble. No coach can guarantee success but unless the CSA is willing to take the risk, I fear Canada will continue to wander in the international wilderness for many more years. It must be a bold statement which will raise eyebrows further afield than North America and make players, reluctant to commit, come rushing towards the maple leaf flag.

Professional soccer in Canada is on the rise. The three Canadian franchises in Major League Soccer are here to stay and over time will produce local talent good enough for MLS and perhaps the international scene. It is not the complete answer - there is a whole other debate about long term player development - but like our friends to the South, homegrown players are the lifeblood of future national teams.

So the World Cup in Rio will be just like all the others; plenty of Canadian interest but no Canadian team. Just as well Canada didn't make The Hex. There's only such humiliation one can take.

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