Defenders Doneil Henry and Nana Attakora are part of a mainly young team that will attempt to bring the Gold Cup back to Canada.
They are included in the national senior side that will begin play in the Confederation of North, Central American & Caribbean Associations of Soccer (CONCACAF) tournament against Martinique in Pasadena on July 7. The Canadians will then travel to Seattle for a July 11 meeting against Mexico before completing the group stage against Panama in Denver three days later.
“I think now is a fantastic opportunity to build on the experience these young players have had,” said interim head coach, Colin Miller. “We’ve got to continue to give these guys a chance and the opportunity to play at this level of soccer. The more we can do that, the better our national team program is going to be.”
Among the veteran players overlooked for the Gold Cup competition is 35-year-old four-time Canadian Player of the Year, Dwayne DeRosario, who was keen to play in the tournament.
“I told him we were looking at a younger group, looking at moving the national program forward and it was just a case of numbers with Dwayne,” said Miller. “I saw that certainly in the future, Dwayne is going to be at a good age when the next World Cup qualifying comes around. He was disappointed as you would imagine, but it was something that I felt in this particular group, it was a perfect opportunity for us to get some talented young players that are desperate for an opportunity, desperate to wear the Canadian jersey. Obviously, he was disappointed but very supportive and wished us well.”
Midfielder Julian DeGuzman, who plays in the German league, is Canada’s most experienced player with 64 caps; while Jamaican-born, England-based striker Simeon Jackson, is the leading goal scorer with six. DeGuzman, 32, was the 2007 Gold Cup Most Valuable Player.
Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000 and appeared in the semi-finals two years later and in 2007.
A familiar face in Canadian soccer will be roaming the sidelines at the Gold Cup tournament.
Trinidad & Tobago-born Stephen Hart, who led Canada to the Gold Cup semi-finals six years ago, is at the helm of the twin-island republic team that is in the same group with Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador.
Appointed Canada’s full-time coach in December 2009 after serving on an interim basis for eight months, Hart resigned last October after Canada’s exit from the World Cup qualifying tournament following an 8-1 road loss to Honduras.
Hart left the national program with a record of 20 wins in 45 matches which ranks second in wins and first in win percentage among former Canadian coaches. In this cycle of World Cup qualifiers, he posted seven wins, two losses and three ties in 12 matches in two years.
Prior to that appointment, he was the technical director for Soccer Nova Scotia and director of the Atlantic Region National Training Centre in Halifax.
The holder of a CSA “A” license and an instructor in the association’s coaching development program since 1992, Hart played for Texaco in the Trinidad National Soccer League and for San Fernando Strikers in the local premier league and was selected to the national squad in 1980 before moving to Canada the same year to attend St. Mary’s University in Halifax.
The other Gold Cup group comprises defending champions the United States, Cuba, Costa Rica and Belize.