Benito Floro looks to reboot culture of Canadian soccer
Canada takes on Australia on Tuesday
Far from home, Canadian soccer is getting a reboot under Benito Floro.
Long, demanding classroom sessions. Detailed video reviews.
"One camp is equivalent to three months of club football," said veteran midfielder Julian de Guzman, who captained Canada last time out.
Floro, 61, brings with him a wealth of experience, having managed clubs from Real Madrid in Spain to Monterrey in Mexico. He's trying to instill that knowledge in a Canadian squad that has seen little success of late.
Floro says he needs a lot more time with his Canadian talent, especially since a lot of the young Canadians in MLS are not starting.
"We need a lot of camps," he said in a media conference call Monday.
Floro's teachings also take time to absorb.
"The experience that we're going through with Benito is kind of a culture shock right now," said De Guzman.
"It's a new kind of mentality and culture to comprehend," he added.
De Guzman says it reminds him of when he first went to play in Spain at the age of 24 after playing in Germany.
"It was night and day," he said. "So it's going to take time for the Canadian national team and Canadians to understand where he's coming from."
The veteran Spanish coach will see his team in action Tuesday when Canada, ranked No. 106 in the world, takes on No. 53 Australia at Craven Cottage, the west London home to Fulham.
It's Floro's second camp as Canadian coach, following one last month in Spain.
The World Cup-bound Australians will be a motivated opposition. Tuesday's game is the first since manager Holger Osieck, a former Canadian national team coach, was fired in the wake of successive 6-0 defeats to Brazil and France.
Interim coach Aurelio Vidmar will guide the Socceroos against Canada.
"For a team that just qualified for the World Cup, they definitely need to get something going themselves," said de Guzman. "It's just around the corner. I'm sure they're looking at this match as some kind of redemption match, something to get them going and bring them back up.
"We're on the same page as well. Even though we're not in a World Cup, we're pretty much in the same scenario where we need these kind of games against these type of teams just to regain that confidence and that positive feel again."
De Guzman notes the last time Canada won a game was a 3-0 decision over Cuba in Toronto in October 2012. Canada has gone 0-8-3 since then, outscored 21-2 during that winless run.
Searching for solutions
Canada has not scored in its last seven games, not since a Marcus Haber goal in a 2-1 loss to Japan in Doha on March 22.
"These are things we needs a solution for. ... I think the solution for that is just the entire team itself finding some type of confidence when they come into these camps," said de Guzman.
"You come into these camps the energy you feel right away is kind of down, depressing. We need help for that and help for that is getting results. Hopefully Benito could be the guy to turn things around."
The only games on Floro's watch so far are a 0-0 draw and 1-0 loss to No. 150 Mauritania last month.
De Guzman, currently playing for Greek side Skoda Xanthi, says Floro's message is not easy to absorb. The Spanish coach's philosophy stretches far deeper than merely playing a possession game.
But de Guzman says Canadian star Dwayne De Rosario, his roommate, has marvelled at the coaching he has got already from Floro.
It bodes well for the futures of North American-based talent like Doneil Henry, Ashtone Morgan, Jonathan Osorio and Russell Teibert, he added.
De Guzman can help spread Floro's words, since he speaks Spanish from his days with Deportivo la Coruna. Floro can communicate in English, as he did on a media conference call Tuesday, but his English is limited.
"It's something I experienced when I first went to Spain," de Guzman said of the language barrier. "Once it's broken down, it will just take you all the way up to a place that you've never been to before.
"That's why Spain remains the best country I've played in, my best moments in football. I learned the most about playing in Spain."