CSA culpable in U-20 demise

GEORGE GROSS, TORONTO SUN

, Last Updated: 6:48 AM ET

The performance of Canada's World Cup Under-20 team could make a grown man cry.

Either that or drive him to drink.

It pains me to have to moan again about Canada's young men who emulated their senior World Cup brethren by playing three matches without scoring a goal en route to becoming the first host nation in history not to score a goal throughout the tournament.

Mon dieu!

I described in previous columns the blunders accomplished over the years by the Canadian Soccer Association, also known as the Boys Club. Yes, one cannot call it anything else because mostly friends and members of that club were elected to offices, management and coaches of Canadian teams.

There was an exception when the CSA, perhaps by mistake, appointed the well known German coach Holger Osieck, former assistant to world star Franz Beckenbauer. And Holger led the Canadian team to a triumph in the Gold Cup in 2000, prompting some media to refer to the team as Holger's Heroes.

However, that didn't sit well with the Boys Club. With the help of some disgruntled players (who probably didn't like the military-style discipline imposed by Osieck), the Boys Club got rid of Osieck as unworthy.

Unworthy? FIFA, soccer's world governing body, thought otherwise, immediately hiring Osieck as its international soccer tutor.

I will say that with Osieck at the helm, Canada's U-20 representatives would not have been able to offer such half-hearted efforts as in the first two games, something that was not only obvious to anyone familiar with the world game, but also conceded by team captain David Edgar.

In fact, he was so embarrassed he would have preferred to hide under BMO Field's artificial turf.

I'm sure he had words with his own goalkeeper, Asmir Begovic, who committed the dumbest rule infraction by handling the ball outside the allowed 18-yard box for which he was sent to an early shower. The depleted team was then saved from further ridicule by midfielder Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault, who volunteered to take the place of the banished goalie after two or three other players turned down the honour. And to his credit, young Jonathan did exceptionally well and prevented the physically better prepared team of Congo from causing further damage.

It is a sad state of affairs to hear the excuses piling up on each other as Canadian officials, coaches and players try to explain away what was clearly a totally embarrassing performance. At a time when interest in soccer is probably at an all-time high across Canada, the CSA and its representatives certainly did not help to sustain the building interest in the sport here.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Congratulations to former Maple Leaf superstar and owner of eight Stanley Cup rings, Leonard Patrick (Red) Kelly, who turned 80 yesterday. The much respected defenceman and centre man is in eight halls of fame ... Herb Carnegie, the gifted black hockey star who never was accepted by an NHL team, was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame the other day.


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