ALSO ON SLAM!
Saturday, June 10, 2000
Canadian coach all business
Osieck eyeing Cuba match
The temptation will be overwhelming.
But Canadian men's soccer coach Holger Osieck vows he will not turn on his television this weekend.
While the much-anticipated European championship kicks off today, Osieck will focus all of his attention on getting his team prepared to play Cuba in a do-or-die World Cup qualifier tomorrow in Winnipeg (8 p.m., CTV Sportsnet).
"I don't think it would be wise to be watching TV right now," said Osieck, whose team needs a win or tie to advance to the next stage of Football Confederation qualifying. "Maybe, if we get by Cuba, I'll have the opportunity to sit down and watch some games. But not before then."
Osieck has more than passing interest in Euro 2000. He was an assistant coach on the German team that captured the 1990 World Cup. He also worked closely with aging German star Lothar Matthaeus, who will retire from the national side after the Euros.
"He's one of the greatest players of all time," Osieck said. "It'll be sad to see him go. But he's 40 years old and there aren't too many players who can play at that age."
Osieck, who has incorporated some of the tried-and-true German tactics into his Canadian side, will have a manicured pitch and a boisterous home crowd working in his favour tomorrow at the 10,000-seat Winnipeg Soccer Complex.
Only a major meltdown should prevent Canada from finishing off the Cubans in the return leg of a home-and-home playoff series.
"We want to be a little more aggressive defensively," Canadian captain Jason de Vos said. "But if we stay focused on the job at hand, we won't slip up."
Canada got a leg-up on Cuba last weekend with a tough 1-0 win in Havana. The game was played in hot, muggy conditions and on a field better suited to grazing goats than international soccer.
"We feel a lot better being at home," de Vos said. "For me, it's like a breath of fresh air."
Should Canada win the series, it would advance to the semi-final stage in regional qualifying for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea. Canada is tentatively scheduled to take on Trinidad and Tobago on July 16 at Edmonton's Commonwealth Stadium.
FENWICK PROMOTED: Canadian defender Paul Fenwick has signed a contract to play for Hibernian of the Scottish Premier League next season. Fenwick, a St. Catharines resident, split his time last season with Greenock Morton and Raith Rovers of the Scottish First Division.