Goals will come, claim Canucks

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:03 AM ET

It was at Mexico 1986, the only time Canada ever played in the World Cup.

A striker by the name of Dale Mitchell, in the last group game against the Soviet Union, sent a free kick at the net which just missed.

"You think back, it could have gone in on a different day," he remembers.

"People made a big deal of getting there and not only not winning a game but not scoring a goal."

Mitchell said many remember that as the missed opportunity which would have given Canada something to take from that World Cup.

"Actually, I think Bob Lenarduzzi had the best chance. But he whiffed," laughed the man who now coaches Canada against Austria in the FIFA U-20 World Cup at 5:45 p.m. in the first game of a double header which features Chile-Congo in the nightcap.

"Mine was a free kick which was rising and just went over the crossbar and hit the netting."

You know where I'm going with this.

NEED MORE OFFENCE

Canada didn't get a goal against Chile in their opener in Toronto and only one shot on goal in the 66th minute of the 3-0 loss.

"I expect our offensive players to be better. They have to be better for us to go anywhere," said Mitchell.

"They weren't in the game against Chile. They didn't have the ball and when they did, they didn't do anything with it.

"We will have our share of the ball against Austria and it's up to us to put people into good position and get those guys to deliver the final ball, the final touch, the final finish.

"That's the thing you can see with other teams in the tournament. When they get opportunities they finish them. In our first game, we weren't in position to get opportunities. We have to sort that out first."

In Canada's entire seven-tournament history only nine players have scored and only Iain Hume (three in two tournaments) and Branko Segota (two) have managed more than one.

On this team, in pre-tournament games, Tosaint Ricketts has scored five, Will Johnson four, Andrea Lombardo three and Jaime Peters and David Edgar two each.

"A lot of guys on this team can score goals. I don't think scoring goals in the next two games is going to be a problem," said Johnson, the Canadian captain from Toronto.

"It's the biggest tournament we've all ever played and we all want to score," he said of the players expected to produce the points. "We have a lot of guys who can't wait to get the chances to have a boot on the ball to get a goal. On this team we think we have the talent to score these goals."

NOT WORRIED

Peters, the midfielder who is the key to the offence, says this Canadian team came to the tournament without a second thought about scoring.

"In the five games going into that game against the Czech Republic that had to be abandoned because of the lightning, we put the ball in the back of the net a lot," he said of scoring 11 goals against USA, Scotland and the Czechs.

"We sat back against Chile. We didn't come out and press them," he said. "We'll get the goals. We have had a lot of goals from our attacking players."

Nobody wants one more than Ricketts, the Edmonton product. "My job is to score goals," said the striker who shocked Canadians by scoring three against USA in the second-last pre-tournament game. "To score here in front of my friends and family would be amazing."

His mom is closing her restaurant this evening to go to the game.

"She's declared it a national holiday," he laughed.

She wants to see her son score a goal. As many as 30,000 others, the way tickets have been moving, want a native son, any native son to get a goal.

"Obviously you don't win games unless you score goals," said Johnson.


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