Soggy and sluggish

Team Canada's Jamie Peters (left) battles for the ball with Ceska Republika's Lukas Kuban during a...

Team Canada's Jamie Peters (left) battles for the ball with Ceska Republika's Lukas Kuban during a U-20 friendly match in Edmonton on Monday. (Sun Media/Jason Franson)

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

They only got 53 minutes worth of soccer in at Commonwealth Stadium, then the rains came.

Last night Canada and the Czech Republic played to a scoreless tie in a game that was abandoned after 53 minutes due to rain.

"Obviously we're a little disappointed that we didn't get the full 90 minutes in," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell. "In terms of the game in general, it's always a tricky time for the coaches, because it's only two weeks before the event and the game, I don't think, had the same intensity as it would have on July 1 (opening game of the U-20 World Cup). Our team in particular is a team that has to have a lot of energy and intensity about them in order to be effective."

The game started out like a typical Canadian national team encounter.

The hosts fired aimless long balls from the back, piled 10 men in defence and rarely ventured beyond their own half.

The Czechs threatened early through their star striker Marek Stretik, who fired a left-footed shot over the net in the 14th minute, then nearly caught Canadian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic off his line moments later.

"I thought we were lacking intensity and that's probably due to the fact the boys have been off for a week," Mitchell said.

"We came in here on Wednesday and worked hard, but we haven't rested them up and trained as sharp as we normally would for an international match. We've just worried about working towards July 1 and because of that I thought our energy level wasn't there."

It took the Canadians nearly 20 minutes to get into the contest.

That's when they began to play the ball around the back, started attacking from the wings and were finding space behind the Czech defence.

Jaime Peters was the biggest threat for Canada working down the right side.

He got behind his marker in the 10th minute as Lukas Kuban misplayed a bounce. Peters got within a couple of yards of the end line, and fired a low cross along the six-yard box but it was cut out by central defender Jan Simunek.

Later Peters got past his defence again, this time his cross found Tosaint Ricketts, who got a piece of it, but it slid past the far post.

Ricketts got another chance when starting keeper Tomas Frystak misplayed a long ball. Ricketts got to it, but was at too acute an angle and all he could do was centre the ball towards the open net which was eventually cleared away.

Ricketts had another chance when a long ball landed on his foot, but he couldn't corral it well enough to get a shot off.

"We knew that Canada has had some good result in the past," said Czech head coach Miroslav Soukup through an interpreter. "I think we dominated the first few minutes but then the level of play became even and Canada had a few very good chances. We were happy that in the end we didn't concede a goal."

The best chance of the game fell to Canadian midfielder Will Johnson, who went in on a run and had the defender in front of him slip. Johnson had a clear lane to the net, but his weak shot was kicked away by Simunek.

Late in the half, Begovic bailed out defender Nana Attakora-Gyan when a ball deflected off his leg and was headed for the roof of the net.

Attakora-Gyan, then came close to scoreing at the end of the half when he came flying though to get his head on a corner, but the ball sailed just over the net.

"We weren't very good in the beginning," said Mitchell. "But I think we certainly came on and made it a little bit of a game. When there's spaces in behind and you have players like Ricketts and Peters, they can exploit them a little bit."


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