No time to recover

STEVEN SANDOR -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:23 AM ET

The worst home defeat in the history of the U-20 World Cup was in 1977, when Tunisia was crushed in its own stadium 6-0 by Mexico.

While Canada lost by just three goals (and I use the word "just" in its most liberal form possible) in its BMO Field opener against Chile on Canada Day, I can't imagine that our boys could have played much worse than that Tunisian team did 30 years ago.

Canada, which looked so strong in its warm-up games leading up to this tournament, now must look to get four points out of its next two games to reach the final 16. Thanks to already being minus-three in goal difference, I think getting just three points won't allow them to get one of the wild-card spots. Four of the six third-place teams get wild-card spots in the round of 16, and FIFA takes the four teams that had the best records, regardless of how strong their groups.

Now, coach Dale Mitchell has just days left to try and rebuild the shattered confidence of a shell-shocked team.

"Our job as a coaching staff is to lift the players," he said.

But precious preparation time for the Austria game was lost in traveling to Edmonton.

"It's a very tight timeline in a tournament like this to work on things," admitted Mitchell.

So little time, so much to work on.

Chilean coach Jose Sulantay identified that Canada was a one-trick pony; all it could do was loft the ball forward for a direct attack. Once that was cut off, Chile dominated. Canada needs to show that the forwards and midfield can play with the ball on the ground.

Canadian defenders were loose; Chilean star Mathias Vidangossy, who just signed with Spanish side Villareal, was allowed to dominate the midfield. They need to work on man-marking.

Hopefully, for Canadian soccer fans, defender Kent O'Connor's post-game words will ring true.

"Both Austria and Congo play different styles, ones which we match up better against. Austria is a much more European, tactical style. We play well against that."

Match-ups are one thing; effort is another. This Canadian team, in the space of a few days, needs to transform radically. We can only hope it is burning the midnight oil.

24 hours sports editor Steven Sandor has written about the Beautiful Game for numerous publications around the globe. The Red Card will appear every Wednesday in 24 hours.


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