jpg75 Posted June 9, 2007 Share Posted June 9, 2007 Good read... Brimming with confidence By Ryan Johnston, Sportsnet.ca http://www.sportsnet.ca/soccer/article.jsp?content=20070609_105143_5268 While his younger brother continues to plot his future as an international living in Holland, Julian De Guzman has quietly become one of Canada's best players. The elder of the Toronto-born soccer siblings scored both goals in Canada's 2-1 win over Costa Rica in their Gold Cup opener, something that De Guzman himself struggled to explain. "I was pleased and surprised about getting two goals in the game, but most importantly I was happy I was able to contribute to the victory. The team played more comfortable football, which is not something we are used to seeing." After a tumultuous year in the front office of the Canadian Soccer Association, the Canadian men's national team looked like world beaters against Costa Rica, a team just five years removed from a World Cup final appearance. "If we continue with the same confidence and mentality I do not see why we can't find ourselves in the final of the Gold Cup," De Guzman said in a telephone interview. Back in 2000, Canada tied all three of their group phase matches and needed a coin flip to earn a spot in the quarter-finals, where the fairy tale run to the final began. De Guzman, who is known more for his defensive control and playmaking abilities, credited the vision of head coach Stephan Hart for Canada's performance "Atiba (Hutchinson) and I were working in front of Nash (Martin), and we tried to emphasize closing down Costa Rica's play through the midfield, which forced them to play a long-ball style, which they were not comfortable playing." The credit cannot go to Hart alone; De Guzman recently finished a solid year with Spain's Deportivo de La Coruna, and has drawn comparisons to midfield greats like Chelsea FC's Claude Makelele and fellow La Coruna legend Mauro Silva. "It (the personal accolades) does a lot for a player's confidence. I hope I can maintain this confidence internationally. I am very pleased I completed another year with Coruna, and I hope to do so for the next two years left on my contract." De Guzman and the rest of the Canadian Gold Cup team take on an unheralded Guadaloupe (Rogers Sportsnet, 7pm/ET) team in their second group match. A win against the unranked French protectorate will put Canada in position to avoid a meeting with the US or Mexico until the tournament semi-finals. "For Guadaloupe, we have been working a lot of our tactic plays and formation organization. We are also aware that Gualdaloupe will be a tough opponent. They are a very aggressive team and we expect them to be more aggressive than Costa Rica. We just have to be smart." "I am not aware of a lot of the players on the team, but we should not take that for granted." Despite playing as a professional, De Guzman is also a fan of the game, and will have one eye on the domestic title race between Real Madrid and Barcelona. With two weeks left in the season the two giants are tied atop the table. "I am Barcelona all the way (laughing), it is going to be a very exciting finish to the season and I wish Barca the best." Spanish Primera aside, De Guzman was keen to discuss the massive groundswell of support enjoyed by his hometown Toronto FC. "Before I even spoke with the guys who play on the team I spoke to a lot of friends back home, guys who don't even support soccer, but they have been out to games. It has done well for the city and the country. If we can get more soccer cities involved, like Vancouver and Montreal, it will make a big difference for the future of Canadian soccer." When prodded about the potential of playing in front of those friends one day, De Guzman's response will certainly whet the palate of every TFC supporter. "My brother and I always joke about it, to retire with Toronto FC, but we'll see. My goal is to stay fit and I am enjoying my time in Spain and if I get a chance to extend my contract I will." De Guzman's brother is Jonathan De Guzman, a highly-skilled midfielder currently playing in Holland with Feyenoord Rotterdam. The 19-year-old has already applied for a Dutch passport, which might mean his future will play out in the orange of the Dutch national team, rather than donning the red and white of his older brother. "I spoke to him (Jonathan) after the game and he was excited and happy to see us win with such style. As long as we continue to play this type of football we will get the support we do need for the program. If we can leave a good impression after this Gold Cup the support will come, stuff like that will attract players who are in situations like my brother." Canada's third and final group phase match is against Haiti on Monday, June 11. Rogers Sportsnet will broadcast all of Canada's matches during their Gold Cup competition. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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