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Hamilton Spectator : Men's side eye '06 Cup berth


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Men's national side eye '06 Cup berth; Players hoping looser atmosphere nets goals

Alge Borusas

The Hamilton Spectator

570 words

23 June 2004

The Hamilton Spectator




Copyright © 2004 The Hamilton Spectator.


A new buoyant attitude on the Canadian national men's soccer team may be the key to a berth in the 2006 World Cup.

With the arrival of new head coach Frank Yallop this season to guide the players, the team members seem to be more receptive to his coaching style and are less tense than under previous mentor Holger Osieck.

"I think everyone wants to be there and wants to enjoy what we're doing in practices and in games," said Canadian team striker Tomasz Radzinski, 30, during a promotional visit to Burlington last week.

"Obviously, it's going to be beneficial to everybody, not just the players on the pitch, but also for the spectators because they are going to see a Canadian team enjoying themselves and wanting to score goals.

"For the first time in a long time, I feel we do have a chance. Two years may be a long time off, and along the way we have to play 16 games, but everyone is enthusiastic.

"Hopefully, by the end of next year, we'll have our tickets and Germany, here we come."

Radzinski, who had tallied once for Canada against Belize in Kingston last Wednesday, was a guest with teammate Mike Klukowski at the Ontario Soccer League men's game between Oakville United and Woodbridge Azzuri at Sherwood Forest Park.

Woodbridge won the game 3-2.

"Change is good," said Klukowski, 23, who plays midfield. "When you look at the past, Canada hasn't qualified since 1986.

"If you're not qualifying, then you've got to change. You've got to try something new out.

"We have got a combination of young players that are playing in Europe and a lot of older players that have been with the national team for a long time."

Canada recorded a pair of wins against Belize, a tiny Central American country, in CONCACAF qualifying action last week, both by convincing 4-0 scores.

"In the last two games, we showed we wanted to score goals," said Radzinski, "but it doesn't matter who your opponent is, it's still difficult to score goals nowadays.

"It was really fun to make the goals and I'm definitely looking to the next round."

Although knocking off Belize, a country ranked 190th in the world, wasn't much of a cause for celebration, Klukowski said it was still necessary to win those two games to get to the next round of qualifications.

"That's just two games down and still another 16 to qualify for the World Cup," said Klukowski. "We'll see how it goes in the next round.

"It's not going to be easy and we'll see how we're going to do against teams like Honduras. If we can get through the next round, then we're good enough to go to the World Cup."

Radzinski, who led Everton with 11 goals in the English Premier League in 2002-03, is still under contract to that team and is expecting to return there next season.

Klukowski is coming off a season as a midfielder with La Louviere in Belgium's first division and said he has heard rumours about some top European clubs interested in him.


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