TORONTO - Canadian head coach Stephen Hart is “grateful” Canada finds itself in position to advance beyond CONCACAF’s third round of World Cup qualifying despite bagging just two goals through four of six group games.
Preparing for next week’s must-not-lose fixture in Toronto, Hart announced Canada’s 21-man roster on Thursday for a pair of decisive qualifiers at home to Cuba on Oct. 12 and away to Honduras on Oct. 16.
Canada will likely need at least four points from its final two games to advance to CONCACAF’s final round of six nations, from which the top three finishers will automatically advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“We do control our own destiny,” said Hart, when reminded his side has struggled to bulge the net in recent memory. “We have not been prolific in scoring goals in the last two or three years so that wasn’t a big secret coming in.
"I thought we would have done better in front of goal. After looking at all the games over and over it’s not for a lack of created chances. “
Whether anyone will be around to continue creating those chances remains to be seen.
Starting target man Olivier Occean was left off the team before a 2-0 loss in Panama last month, a match that saw Dwayne De Rosario hobble off five minutes in with an MCL injury. The country’s all-time leading goal-scorer has already been ruled out for next week’s qualifiers, leaving Hart with even less creativeness in the final third.
Despite naming him to Thursday’s roster, Hart told a group of reporters that Occean’s inclusion next Friday against Cuba is still very much in question.
“He is in training,” Hart said of Occean, who scored for Canada in its 1-0 win away to Cuba in June. “The decision on if he plays or not is of course on his coach, but he is back in training.”
Hart announced two changes to the roster that split a pair of games with Panama last month, bringing in Doncaster’s Iain Hume to replace De Rosario up front and electing to issue Mike Klukowski a recall ahead of Toronto FC’s Ashtone Morgan on Canada’s left side.
Currently two points behind group-leading Panama with two games to go, Canada sits level with Honduras on seven points. As only the top two teams from each of CONCACAF’s three third-round groups advance to the region’s final round, Canada will secure passage to CONCACAF’s last six for the first time since 1998 with back-to-back wins over Cuba and Honduras.
Combined with a Canada win or draw against Cuba, should Honduras lose in Panama on Matchday 5, Canada would need just a draw in Honduras to advance on the last day.
- 1- GK- Lars Hirschfeld | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
- 2- M- Nik Ledgerwood | SWE / Hammarby Fotboll
- 3- FB- Mike Klukowski | CYP / APOEL
- 4- CB- Kevin McKenna | GER / FC Köln
- 5- CB- André Hainault | USA / Houston Dynamo
- 6- M – Julian de Guzman | USA / FC Dallas
- 7- F- Iain Hume | ENG / Doncaster Rovers
- 8- M- Will Johnson | USA / Real Salt Lake
- 9- F- Tosaint Ricketts | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
- 10- F- Simeon Jackson | ENG / Norwich City FC
- 11- FB- Marcel de Jong | GER / FC Augsburg
- 12- CB- Dejan JakoviÄ | USA / D.C. United
- 13- M- Atiba Hutchinson | NED / PSV Eindhoven
- 14- M – Terry Dunfield | CAN / Toronto FC
- 15- CB- David Edgar | ENG / Burnley FC
- 16- M- Pedro Pacheco | POR / CD Santa Clara
- 17- F- Olivier Occean | GER / Eintracht Frankfurt
- 18- GK- Milan Borjan | TUR / Sivasspor
- 19- FB- Ante JaziÄ | USA / Chivas USA
- 20- M – Patrice Bernier | CAN / Impact Montréal
- 22- GK- Kenny Stamatopoulos | SWE / AIK Fotbol