ALSO ON SLAM!
Monday, June 12, 2000
Pesh glad he stuck with Nats
WINNIPEG -- Paul Peschisolido has seen the worst of Canadian soccer.
But eight years after making his debut for the national team, the 29-year-old striker says he finally is seeing the best of it.
Last night, Peschisolido may have been at his best in a red-and-white jersey. The Pickering native was an offensive threat throughout Canada's 0-0 draw against Cuba that sent the national team through to the next round of World Cup qualifying.
Peschisolido had several good scoring chances and kept the Cuban defence on its heels all night with his speed and ball control.
"Since I've been here, that's probably the best game I've seen Pesh play," Canadian coach Holger Osieck said.
"He really took all the knocks and kicks and he didn't care. He created a lot of space. That's what I want to see."
The images Canadian soccer fans associate most with the offensively talented Peschisolido are the temper tantrums he displayed during Canada's failed bid to qualify for the 1998 World Cup.
But Peschisolido has played with a cool head of late and, once again, has become a valuable offensive weapon for a Canadian squad that hasn't lost in 16 games.
"I feel like I'm back to my old form," Peschisolido said. "I've battled through a lot of little injuries in past years, but my fitness feels great right now. I feel like I have everything under control."
While it could have been easy for Peschisolido to abandon the national team in recent years, having twice failed to qualify for the World Cup, he remained steadfastly committed to Canada.
"It's your country and it's always an honour," Peschisolido said. "Especially now that we're playing so well. I've had seven or eight years of not doing well. It's nice to finally be playing in front of good crowds and getting some recognition for all the sacrifices.
"I've never felt this good about playing for Canada."
Peschisolido, who plays his club soccer with Fulham of the English First Division, has nine goals in 36 games for the national team since 1992. However, his goal in a friendly against Honduras two weeks ago was his first in a Canadian uniform in four years.