Canadians promise their best shot

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:21 AM ET

The game was supposed to mean everything.

That's why it was scheduled for the biggest stadium in the country, on a date where the weather is more conducive to the other football, against a country susceptible to cold.

Yet it won't mean anything for a team that again failed to qualify for the biggest sporting spectacle on the planet.

"We're playing for pride," said Canadian head coach Dale Mitchell. "So far we don't have a win, and we're anxious to get a win in front of the Canadian people. It's our duty to give everything we have and that's what we're going to do."

Canada plays Mexico tomorrow (7 p.m.) at Commonwealth Stadium having earned one point from four qualifying games.

To advance to the final qualifying phase in the North, Central and Caribbean region, Canada needed to finish top two in their group, which also features Jamaica and Honduras.

A tie in Toronto against Jamaica, a loss on the road to Mexico and a pair of losses to Honduras, eradicated any hope of that happening.

"Being eliminated from qualifying is a major disappointment to our plans and to our team," said Canadian captain Paul Stalteri. "But we're professional players, we have a job to do.

"We owe it the other teams in the group to give a performance. It's like a league game in a way when a team is not playing for anything, they owe it to the other teams to be professional out there. That's what we're going to do and we won't give anything less."

Canada has not played in a World Cup since 1986, the only time they qualified.

This time they were expected to challenge for a spot in South Africa 2010, or at the very least get into the final round of qualifying.

But it was over shortly after it began and the Canadians were mathematically eliminated with two games left in the round.

"As players all we can do is look at ourselves and look at our own performances," Stalteri said.

"Each and every player has to admit that they weren't at their best for every game. Had we been there, we probably would have had different results."


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