Are these kids ready for world stage?

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

You can't blame the Canadian Soccer Association for the lightning. But they certainly are a lightning rod.

About the only evaluation you could make of Canada's final friendly before the FIFA U-20 World Cup is that the CSA's attempt to organize the match was abysmal to the end.

They weren't responsible for the thunder, the lightning and the downpour which resulted in last night's game against the Czech Republic being washed out after 53 minutes of scoreless play.

But loading the entire team on the bus while coach Dale Mitchell attended the press conference and driving off after team manager Dave Nutt allowed only keeper Asmir Begovic to talk to the media?

Priceless.

The media, who had gone way out of the way to promote a game the CSA didn't, managed to produce an announced crowd of 4,122 after a pre-sale of less than half that number.

We only had half a game to cover. And we couldn't even talk to star striker Tosaint Ricketts of Edmonton after he played his first ever game at Commonwealth Stadium?

It never dawned on anybody from the CSA to do anything more than send the fans away after they'd almost all waited for three delays to decide if the game would continue. It wasn't until 40 minutes after the game was abandoned that Val Close and the local organizing committee -which has sold 160,000 tickets for the tournament and had nothing to do with this game - saw the light and decided to come up with a make-good for the fans.

Anybody who produces a ticket from the game will receive a free ticket - on game day at Gate 2 - for Canada's tournament game her at e against Austria on July 5.

The question going into the 53-minute match against the Czechs was whether Mitchell's team was prepared to proceed to the tournament.

Ready or not, here they come?

After the first 20 minutes, it didn't look like it. The Czechs, a group of very large lads, owned the ball for the most part, and Mitchell's team looked like so many Canadian outfits which put one man up and didn't dare go forward.

But after settling into it, Canada finally started creating some chances - four great ones on the Czech net and one on their own - to raise some eyebrows.

"We were starting to get on top of them," said Begovic.

But it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Then there was Begovic's view of it.

"In the tournament, we have to score on those chances or we're not going to win," he said.

But ready or not?

"We're getting there," he said. "We'll be ready."

The Canadians, who drew 500 fans in Ottawa and 2,200 in Kingston for their previous two games, both against the U.S., wanted this game in order to experience playing in the same stadium and on the same field where they expect a crowd of around 25,000 for Austria on July 5.

The idea was to play a team very similar in style to the Austrians, a team the Czechs defeated 3-1 in European qualifying.

Czech coach Miroslav Soukup said that, from the 53 minutes he watched, the Canadians looked up to it.

"We know the Austrians very well. They are our neighbors. I think the Canadian team is better on the offensive side and the team has a little more power."

Mitchell stated the obvious.

'"We weren't very good in the beginning. But we certainly came on. I think it was still beneficial that we got a chance to play in Commonwealth Stadium and get a comfort level."

Ready or not?

"I think we'll be ready."


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