Think back to the Nagano Olympics — the one where Canada bombed out of the men’s hockey competition.
Days after the fact reports were being commissioned to figure out what had happened to Canadian hockey.
Not a moment was wasted trying to figure out what went wrong.
Now flash forward to just more than a year ago. The men’s national soccer team, attempting to qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986, tied a Jamaican squad 1-1 in Toronto. It wasn’t its elimination, but it was certainly its undoing.
Once Canada was eliminated from qualifying, there was no swift action, no reports commissioned. A few commentators offered critical observations and questioned then-head coach Dale Mitchell’s abilities. But even the inspired mob, with its torches lit, could not force the Canadian Soccer Association into action.
This laissez-faire attitude continues on the part of the CSA.
After Dale Mitchell’s eventual dismissal, CSA technical director Stephen Hart was appointed interim head coach.
He’s well-liked by the players, has shown an understanding of the tactics needed to win in CONCACAF and achieved results.
But a month after the decent Gold Cup run headed by Hart, the CSA hasn’t bothered to remove the interim tag. And when I caught up with Hart Friday to ask him how players like Dwayne De Rosario and Adrian Serioux might factor into the national side in the years ahead, he didn’t sound like a man counting on getting the job full time.
“That’s hard to say as I’m not the national coach — just an interim. Any coach coming in will wipe the slate clean,” Hart said.
And he certainly didn’t sound confident when I asked him about any upcoming friendlies.
“Any coach coming in is going to ask for a lot of international games on FIFA dates. They will want opposition against CONCACAF opponents so they can get used to that environment. They’ll need quite a bit of games. But as I said, I’m just the interim head coach.”
Hart admitted he has not had any formal discussions with the CSA about the full-time position. But I’ve since learned that the CSA board will meet next month — at which time it will discuss Hart’s future.
For those in favour of removing the interim tag, it might be time to join the mob and relight the torches.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org
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