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Canada's quest to Germany leads through Edmonton: Head coach Yallop confident in team's chances

Joanne Ireland

The Edmonton Journal

575 words

24 June 2004

Edmonton Journal




Copyright © 2004 Edmonton Journal


EDMONTON - Before Frank Yallop could even talk about Canada's chances of qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, he had to coax a number of players back to the national soccer program.

Mission accomplished.

Accordingly, the Canadian head coach has now turned his attention to the process of advancing his team to Germany, a journey winding its way through Edmonton on Sept. 4, when Canada faces Honduras at Commonwealth Stadium.

"I keep saying to our guys, why not Canada?" said Yallop, in town Wednesday to help launch the organizing committee's ticket campaign.

"We have enough good players to get there. We just have to get together as a team. We have to make sure we get through some tough games.

"We obviously have some hurdles ahead of us but there's no reason why we can't do that."

European-based Canadians, players like midfielder Marc Bircham and striker Paul Peschisolido, were not part of the national program under former coach Holger Osieck, whose autocratic reign ended last September. That has since changed and the rebuilding process is underway.

"We're very excited to have all the players available now, players who want to come back and play for their country -- and be proud of that," Yallop said.

"I didn't take much to coax them to be honest."

After defeating Belize in the first leg of qualifying, Canada has been grouped with Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica in a six-game, round-robin, home-and-away series getting underway Aug. 18 in Vancouver's Swangard Stadium and ending Nov. 17 in Guatemala.

The top two teams in the group will advance to the final stage of qualifying next year.

General admission tickets for the qualifying game in Edmonton Sept. 4 can be had through the soccer community for $8 with a dollar from every ticket going back to the team that made the sale. Beginning on Friday, reserved seating passes ranging from $19-$39 will be available through Ticketmaster.

The Oct. 13 game, the third and final game on home soil for Canada, will be played in either Commonwealth or Swangard. If temperate weather and a packed, intimate stadium are deciding factors, it will be be held in Vancouver rather than Edmonton. A decision on the venue will be made by Aug. 1.

The Canadian men's team hasn't played in Edmonton since losing to Trinidad and Tobago on July 16, 2000.

"I want exhibition games (in Canada). I want games where we can showcase some of our good players," Yallop said. "Then when you come back for a qualifier, you already have those fans ready to go."

Edmonton native Lars Hirschfield and veteran Pat Onstad will man the net for Team Canada. Tomaz Radzinski, a highly sought after forward playing for Everton in the English Premier league, will be looked upon for his offence.

He scored two of the eight goals Canada netted against Belize.

"The team is starting to grow into a team that will be able to compete in this region," Yallop said.

"That was the main thing I wanted to do -- to make sure we were good enough to be in with the likes of Mexico and the U.S., Honduras and Costa Rica."


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