Canadian coach Hart wants team to play possession game
Canadian coach Stephen Hart wants his team to go on the attack against Greece.
Hart is urging his players to express themselves creatively on the pitch when they take on 10th-ranked Greece in Larissa in a soccer friendly Wednesday.
"There will come a time when we know we have to play reactionary football and adjust a lot to what the opposition is doing, but right now that's not our focus," Hart said Tuesday.
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"Our focus is to give the players confidence into how to go forward, how to play a progressive possession sort of game."
The Canadian men, ranked 80th, will be looking to build on a 2-2 draw away to Ukraine in October.
But despite Hart's attack-minded ethos and the positive result in Kyiv, midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is taking a cautious approach.
"We're playing away from home against a tough team," said Hutchinson, who plays his club soccer for PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
"It will be a good atmosphere here and they are former European champions. We have to be organized, have a good shape and we'll have to play a little bit off of the counter and be smart when we have the ball."
Canada has scrambled to put together a full squad.
Hart was forced to call in defenders Adrian Cann (Toronto FC) and Paul Stalteri (Borussia Moenchengladbach) after injuries to Kevin McKenna, Marcel de Jong and Nik Ledgerwood.
Hart initially left Stalteri off the roster, citing his lack of playing time in Germany.
First-choice goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld also had to sit out portions of Tuesday's training session at the AEL FC Arena due to a knee injury sustained in practice.
Should Hirschfeld be unable to play Wednesday, backup Milan Borjan will earn his first cap for Canada.
Borjan, who plays his club soccer for FK Rad in Serbia, is eligible to play for the Canadian team as a result of the time he spent in the country after his family was forced to flee Croatia during the Yugoslav wars.
The 23-year-old sees the chance to represent Canada as a way to repay the nation for the assistance it gave his family at a time of pressing need.
"I could have played for Serbia or Croatia, but I accepted Canada because Canada helped my family a lot," said Borjan. "When I was a kid we didn't have anything because of the war and everything. We came to Canada and they helped us with a new life, and this is a way I can say thank you very much."
The oddsmakers in Europe are only giving Canada an 8-1 chance of defeating the Greeks and the Canadian team's limited preparation makes the possibility of an upset even more unlikely.
Despite the significant challenge ahead, Hutchinson is confident Canada is ready to perform.
"We're looking good," he said. "We've had the training today and everybody's looking pretty sharp now that we've got the flights out of us. We're looking forward to tomorrow."
Canada's next game is scheduled for March 29, with the opponent and European location yet to be announced.