By RON FANFAIR
Neither Canada nor Jamaica will be at this year’s World Cup soccer finals in South Africa.
The two countries begin the New Year with the aim of working their way back to the top when they collide in an international friendly match at the National Soccer Stadium in Jamaica on January 31. It will be Canada’s first contest with Stephen Hart as the full-time coach.
“This camp provides me with the ideal opportunity to see some of our players that are on the winter break from their club season,” said Hart. “We will also be provided with a good international test as Jamaica has proved to be a formidable opponent within CONCACAF in recent years.”
The Canadian team will assemble in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on January 18 to prepare for the game. Hart will draw mostly on players whose teams are on a winter break, including those players in North America and northern Europe.
Canada and Jamaica are familiar foes that have faced each other five times since 2006. Their most recent meeting was in Carson, California last summer for the opening match of the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup which the Canadians won 1-0 en route to a quarter-final finish in the biennial confederation championship.
Canada has always found Jamaica a tough place to play. Canada’s away record in Jamaica is one win, three draws and three losses in seven matches played, including a 3-0 loss on November 19, 2008. Canada still holds the all time head-to-head advantage with a record of seven wins, six draws, and three losses against the Caribbean country.