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Yallop Interview Part 2


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Here is part two of Sky Sports exclusive interview with Frank Yallop.

Yallop: Tough path to Germany

Thursday, 08 April 2004

Yallop: Tough road ahead.



by Simon Fudge


As Europe will be transfixed by the start of the Euro 2004 finals in Portugal this June, the Concacaf region will be gearing up for the second round of 2006 World Cup qualifying.

12 two-leg ties will be played during that time to determine the nations that will reach the three semi-final group stages that begin in August.

Canada's path towards reaching the 2006 finals in Germany begin with a two-leg series against the Central American minnows of Belize - a tie from where new manager Frank Yallop will start his campaign to take the North American nation to only the second finals in their history after their debut in Mexico in 1986.

In part two of our exclusive skysports.com interview with the former Ipswich Town and Canada defender, Yallop reveals the challenges both he and his squad face in trying to qualify for the World Cup.

The last two World Cup qualifying campaigns in Concacaf have had an air of unpredictability with the results recorded by the participating nations, something that is not lost on Yallop.

"It is unpredictable. I think you look at Mexico and US, they're expected to qualify," he told skysports.com.

"However, I think all the other teams are beatable and are all pretty good, so it makes it unpredictable in that sense.

"Mexico has gone through some tough times, but they're getting it back together, and the US are always strong.

"They're the two that you look at and say 'They are tough to beat'.

"I think what we've got to do is make sure we compete in each game we're in and make sure if we're playing a Honduras or a Guatemala or a Belize, that we impose our game on them."

Poor recent form has left the Canadians lagging behind some of their Concacaf counterparts but the former San Jose Earthquakes manager is confident they can turn things around.

"We're behind some of those teams, but hopefully if we get going with the players we've brought in and get some chemistry, we can get ourselves up the standings there a little bit and be equal with them," says Yallop.

"We're below them at the moment but I feel that once we get going and get into a campaign, we can compete and be with the likes of those other teams and go for that third spot.

"Of course, that's if Mexico and the US make it. They could get knocked out."

Yallop's experience of playing in the region has made him realise how difficult qualifying matches will be for his players - especially away from home.

"It is totally different. It is night and day, it really is," he said.

"They (the other sides) are different teams when they come out of their own countries.

"However, they just get so revved up at home and they're so good at home, that if you go in there and quieten them down and get a result, you've done really well.

"We've got to get better at playing in Canada and getting some advantage for us and winning our games at home.

"We need to really get at teams and force them to defend and make them pay for mistakes they're going to make at the back.

"We want to do that, especially in Canada.

"When we go away from home, we've got to be patient and use the ball well because it's different conditions - it's hot and humid usually and the pitch is always difficult.

"There's no excuse but we've got to get used to playing like that."

Yallop's task will be made more difficult by the fact that he will not have as much time to assemble his squad for a crucial away fixture in either Central America or the Caribbean.

"It's tough because you've only got the guys for five days," admits Yallop.

"If you had a two-week training camp before a game, that would be great, but you've only got five days and then you're down there and you're playing.

"But we don't worry about that, we need to make sure the players will be ready.

"Florida would probably be the stop where we go into, then fly down to play the games."

For now, the Canadian boss's concern will be the two-leg tie with minnows Belize and although Yallop has not seen their opponents as yet, he is delighted to have both matches at home in Kingston, Ontario this June.

"They (Belize) haven't had a game yet, so it's tough," he said.

"We're trying to get (video) tape but we're probably not going to get any tape on them, so whenever they're going to play, I'm going to go and watch them.

"I think it's good for us (to get both games at home). When they said they wanted to do it, we were happy.

"Does it guarantee us getting through? No. But it gives us a better shot of getting through over two matches.

"We're going to really take them seriously and get a good result and have a positive training camp before those two games."

Should Canada reach the final round stage of qualifying next year, Yallop's side face playing upwards of 18 to 20 matches in trying to reach Germany 2006.

Despite the seemingly long fixture list, Canada could take advantage of the number of qualifying matches to gel their squad through the campaign, though Yallop warned that a lack of preparation may not be the best situation.

"What you don't want is getting caught with your pants down when you're not quite prepared and you get knocked out. That's what we can't afford to do," warned Yallop.

"This Belize series we're taking really seriously. We're doing a long training camp before the games and we can't take anybody lightly.

"With our recent results and our standing, we're not a force in the region so we've got to earn the right to get into the next round and that's beating Belize over two games.

"Getting into the next round, then we can start to hopefully gather some momentum.

"If we get through the Belize series, we do have the first two games in Canada in the next qualifying round, so that's great.

"If we can get some good results there, that will give us momentum and that will take us though the rest of the (semi-final) round hopefully and see how far we can get.

"The best thing is that the top two go from four, so you have got to end up in the top end of the table in both (group) series - top two of four and then top three of six.

"It's easier said than done but that's what we will be aiming for."

Part of that preparation for the Belize tie will involve two friendlies towards the end of May and the beginning of June.

Canada face Mark Hughes's Wales squad in Wrexham before facing Yallop's old club San Jose Earthquakes in Northern California.

These matches will likely see the shape of his starting line-up for the Belize clash.

"They (the starting XI) will probably play a big part of those two games because we need to get to a point where the guys who are going to start are looking like they're going to be there," Yallop said.

"I think two parts of those games will see the unit that I would be using probably, but I'll still be looking at players because I'm still gathering as much information as I can on every player.

"It's a tough game (Wales) but it's a good game and I think the San Jose game is a good one for us because it's similar to the conditions of what we'll maybe have in Canada against a Concacaf-type team."

The Belize tie will be the first matches that Yallop will take charge of the Canadian squad at home and the ex-defender thinks it has been too long since the national side has played in front of its own supporters.

"We have to play some games at home to get some home support," he said.

"We've not played at home since 2000 - that's way too long.

"We've got qualifying games, but I'm looking to play some friendlies and hopefully get some tournaments and just get some interest back in the men's game in Canada.

"It goes hand in hand with us playing better and getting results along the way."

To look at part one of our feature interview with Frank Yallop, click here.

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Seems to be hinting that for all the talk of giving everyone a fresh look and having a fresh, open mind towards all players available, Frankie has a 1st team pretty much penciled in.

Not that I'm complaining. To be entirely expected. Dought very much if we're to see too many different faces from Holger's final days.

Find some funny quotes some times, you know. The bit about how Canada has got to become more of a dangerous road trip for the CONCACAF opposition. Odd sounding, that. Playing at home. Good idea, though. Wonder why nobody thought of that years ago?

Liked Radz.'s part on Soccer Central last week, too. How did it go? All we have to do is be a team on and off the field and get the results. Geezus, is that all?

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We dont need a lot of different faces from holgers last days....just a few changes that could make a big difference (no hastings etc...)

btw....radz has got a point.....one of the things these central american teams have going for them is that they play togtehter all the time so they have good teamwork. If we can gell quickly and blend our skills together(with our full squad i think we can match up with some of the best teams in the world) we can go pretty far in this tourny

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