Canada will have a larger crowd

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

Not a highlight. Not a moment. Not a memory.

So far Team Canada has contributed nothing to the FIFA U-20 World Cup.

But yesterday Dale Mitchell gave the event a memorable quote.

Mitchell was answering a question about looking forward to having 25,000-plus fans here all cheering for Canada instead of that sellout crowd of 19,500 in Toronto with half of them cheering for Chile.

"Our problem wasn't the Chileans in the crowd, it was the Chileans on the field," he said.

The real quote in play as Mitchell's team settles in here where they'll play the remainder of their games in the tournament is the one from John F. Kennedy.

Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

What if you played host to the biggest soccer tournament in the history of our nation and didn't give Canada a highlight, a moment or a memory?

AROUND THEIR BRAINS

That terrifying thought is bouncing around their brains as they wait out the hours before playing Austria at 5:45 p.m. in Commonwealth Stadium tomorrow.

Because of the way they soiled the sheets for openers in the 3-0 loss to Chile, the team held a players-only meeting upon arrival and tried to come to grips with the idea of showing up here to give something to their nation to take away from this tournament which otherwise isn't lacking for highlights, moments and memories from the other teams involved.

"We need to put on a big game for the people. We need to give Canada something to cheer about," said keeper Asmir Begovic.

"This is the highlight of our careers so far. We need to do it for ourselves, too, to keep playing and give ourselves something to remember for the rest of our lives."

For openers, they gave nothing other than that already infamous shot on goal at the 66 minute mark.

Unlike the teenage Canadian girls who came here and played a gusto game, going forward and continually creating chances in the FIFA U-19 Women's World Championships, these guys spent their opener going backward and creating nothing.

"We just wish the next game was right now so we can get back on the pitch and make up for it and put on a game for the people, get a win and get back in the tournament," said Begovic.

David Edgar said what they're dealing with mostly is the realization they are suddenly facing the possibility of having nothing to take away from everything they invested.

"We've prepared two years for this. We don't want to disappoint ourselves.

"We have to get out of the group stage. We have the team to do that. We didn't play up to our standard," said Edgar.

"If there was a positive, I guess it was that we got the worst game of our lives out of the way," said Begovic.

PUBLIC WHIPPING

The Canadians were willing to publicly whip themselves while quietly suggesting they hope the fans here will decide it's what they can do for their country's team as they try to get their game back together against Austria.

This is a team which definitely needs a hug.

"We're gutted," said Begovic, the Edmonton product who plays pro with Portsmouth.

"The crowd has always been good for Canadian teams in Edmonton. We're hoping it makes a massive difference," said Kitchener's Edgar of the 25,000 who have already bought tickets.

"It will be a very big boost for us. Now we're in Edmonton and everybody will be cheering for us," said Jaime Peters, the Pickering, Ont. player who didn't get much service and didn't do anything when he did.

"We're all a bit down after Sunday. Getting out of there is good," said Begovic, pointing out he had no problem with the Chilean fans or anything about Toronto.

"There were a lot of Canadians there and we didn't give them a thing to cheer about."


Videos

Photos