Tomasz at turning point

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

It could be argued that Canada's chances of playing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa went south after Tomasz Radzinski slammed into an advertising board in Montreal.

The veteran striker shredded his hand and had to be substituted early into Canada's second game of the current qualifying round.

The Canadians lost the contest 2-1 to Honduras, and for all intents and purposes, were eliminated from World Cup contention. Losses in Mexico and Honduras just made it official.

"I've heard those comments too, but I'm just one player," Radzinski said.

ONE OF THOSE GAMES

"We have a fantastic group of players. We have 20 top-quality players. It was just one of those games where we had to win it.

''You have to win your home games and if we had won our game against Honduras at home, perhaps everything would be different.

"But unfortunately it didn't happen. Going into Mexico is never easy and then (Saturday) we were missing so many key players, it was just one of those things."

Heading into tomorrow's game against Mexico at Commonwealth Stadium, Canada has nothing left to play for. Once again the national team was eliminated with games to spare in the qualifying round.

Radzinski, 34, is the best player Canada has produced. And the game against Mexico will most likely be his final with the national team. Knowing that, he's expected to get a rousing send-off by the organized group of Canadian soccer supporters attending the contest.

"Tomasz is a top-quality player," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell.

"If you go back the last 15 years and looked at his career and what he's done at a quality level, it's very impressive. He still has a lot to offer and you don't see too many players within the Canadian system with that type of quality come around."

Radzinski is one of the most successful Canadians to earn his living kicking a soccer ball.

His career started in the defunct Canadian Soccer League. From there, he went on to star with Belgian club giants, Anderlecht and became the most expensive Canadian player ever when he transferred to Everton in the English Premier League. Currently Radzinski is back in Belgium after a brief stint in Greece.

He has nine goals for the Canadian national team, but never played in a World Cup.

So when Canada was eliminated from contention with a 3-1 loss in Honduras on Saturday, the realization that he never would hit Radzinski hard.

DISAPPOINTED

"I was so disappointed after the game because this is going to be the last time I play in (World Cup) qualifiers," he said.

"I was absolutely gutted. I couldn't believe we were out. I sat on the field for five minutes, I couldn't believe that was it for me.

"In a way being with the national team for 15 years I can definitely say for me as a person, I underachieved. The goal was to go to the World Cup and I never made it, so it was very disappointing from my point of view."

Those following Canada's progress through the latest qualifying stage could see the determination in Radzinski's game.

He was one of the best players on the field in the opening 1-1 tie against Jamaica in Toronto, and would have scored if not for a great save by the opposing goalkeeper.

He was the most dangerous player against Honduras prior to getting hurt, and then was unable to play in Mexico due to the injury.

"For whatever reason it was a momentum shift," Mitchell said of Radzinski's injury.

"It took a long time to make the sub because we weren't sure if he was going to have to come out for the better part of five minutes.

"During those five minutes Honduras started to get control of the game and we lost a little bit of the momentum we had with him there."

ONE POINT

Having only secured a point in their opening-game with Jamaica, Canada needed to beat Honduras at home to have a realistic chance of moving on to the final stage of qualifying.

The loss forced the Canadians into attaining victories on the road.

Nobody beats Mexico in Mexico, and by the time they played the return game in Honduras, injuries, suspensions and team dissension left Canada with a depleted lineup.

"This could be my last game for now, because my girlfriend in Belgium is expecting a baby and it'll be right around the time we'll be playing Jamaica," Radzinski said.

"And because it's a game that won't mean anything, I might pass on that. But I'll speak to Dale after the game on Wednesday and make my decision after that."


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