Jump to content
  • Hart on Gold Cup: "We've got to use these games wisely"


    ccs-3097-140264008726_thumb.jpgIt appears Mission 2014 is alive and well.

    Staring down a congested summer schedule, in which Canada will launch into World Cup qualifying mere months after the biennial Gold Cup tournament, men's national team head coach Stephen Hart appears set to prioritize the latter over the former.

    "What we can do (at the Gold Cup) is try to use the squad, the entire squad, as much as possible, and get everybody in tune with their roles, responsibilities, etc.," Hart said on Tuesday. "Things like rankings are not going to play any role. ... We've got to use games against CONCACAF competition, albeit all in one country, wisely."

    While Hart expressed "irritation" at CONCACAF's announcement that seeding for World Cup qualifying is already set, meaning the Gold Cup will have no impact in that regard, he does see the continental tournament as a good opportunity to build depth and provide meaningful experience to a good number of players.


    While not tipping his hand as to who the specific invitees to training camp may be, Hart said that as of now, no player that he's contacted has declined an invitation to represent Les Rouges at the Gold Cup. When asked the inevitable, unavoidable question about whether that includes Blackburn's David "Junior" Hoilett, Hart said nothing has changed when it comes to the Canadian-born, maybe-Jamaican, maybe-English striker.

    "There will be a point to move on, of course, when we get close to World Cup qualification. But until we get to that point, I'll keep working on it."

    Mitigating the urgency around Hoilett's plans, however, has been the recent sparkling play of Simeon Jackson, who scored the winning goal on Monday to lift Norwich City into the Premiership for the first time since 2005. Jackson has turned into a certified red-hot goal poacher for the Canaries in recent months, but Hart was unwilling to say whether that would mean a shift in the youngster's role with the national team.

    "We'll keep working on different things with him," said Hart, who has mainly utilized Jackson as a winger, rather than an out-and-out striker. "When the time is right we'll make, I think, the best decision for the team."

    Hart chalked up Jackson's hot form to the fact that he's been given the chance to play consistently as of late, though he ruefully admitted that the same can't be said of some of the player pool's other European-based members. Still, he remained coy when it came to the subject of potential domestic call-ups.

    "Terry (Dunfield), I've seen play at an international level. He's been very consistent for Vancouver," said Hart. "Russell (Teibert) is playing, he's learning, he's developing. ... If he keeps playing, he will grow through the experience of playing in MLS and fighting for a position in the squad. So I'll keep an eye on him as we go along."

    Hart noted he is also keeping an eye on a few NASL-based players as potential Gold Cup callups, but wouldn't go into specifics.

    "You want to go into the Gold Cup with a very balanced squad," he said, noting on several occasions that the coaching staff will be "careful" in its approach to the Gold Cup, in an attempt not to burn players out ahead of World Cup qualifying.

    As for the games themselves, Canada's in a "tricky group" with the U.S., Panama and Guadeloupe, but Hart was quick to brush aside the suggestion that the team is still stinging from a controversial loss to the U.S. in the 2007 Gold Cup semi-finals.

    "It's in the past, it's finished ... This is a new game, a new competition."

    While Hart says the team won't be haunted by the ghosts of Gold Cups past, he does hope that the team can gain some positive psychological momentum from a strong, pro-Canadian crowd at BMO Field for the team's tune-up match against Ecuador on June 1.

    "The crowd makes a huge impact on how a team performs," he said. "Those players are wearing the Canada shirt with pride, they've sacrificed a lot to play for Canada."

    Fans who want to see Canada make the World Cup one day, he says, should do their part and support the squad every chance they get. Mission 2014, after all, isn't just about the players on the field -- it's also about the supporters in the stands.

  • Create New...