ALSO ON SLAM!
Tuesday, June 13, 2000
Canuck kickers become believers
Canada's men's soccer team is bursting at the seams.
"Right now, the confidence is just overwhelming," longtime national team forward Paul Peschisolido, a Pickering resident, said. "I've never felt this way before. Never.
"It's actually kind of scary."
With a 0-0 draw Sunday against Cuba in a preliminary World Cup qualifying game, Canada extended its unbeaten streak to 15 games (10-0-5). Canada has lost just three times, all within a one-month span last summer, in its 21 games under coach Holger Osieck.
Sunday's tie against Cuba before close to 10,000 fans at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex put Canada through to the next stage of qualifying.
With most observers expecting Canada simply to hold the fort defensively against Cuba and get the draw it needed, the Canadians actually took it to the Caribbean visitors.
Canada produced several glorious scoring opportunities and, while it was against a suspect Cuban defence, looked the best it has offensively since winning the Gold Cup in February.
The players obviously have bought into Osieck's German-influenced system of defending well and making the most of counter-attacks and set plays.
During its unbeaten streak, Canada has scored 17 goals while giving up just seven. Canada has been scored upon just once in its past six games.
"We know that if we hold out long enough defensively, that we'll sneak in a goal or two," Peschisolido said. "We've been very solid."
As well as Canada has played, captain Jason de Vos said soccer fans shouldn't get overly enthusiastic so early in the World Cup qualifying stage.
"This is just the starting block," said de Vos, a native of Appin, Ont. "It's nothing to really get excited about. We have a long road ahead of us."
CRASH: The Canadian Soccer Association's Web site (www.canadasoccer.com) crashed following Canada's tie with Cuba on Sunday because of a large number of hits. More than 300,000 visitors went to the site within hours after the game to get details of Canada advancing to the next stage of World Cup qualifying.
"We've never had that happened before," CSA chief operating officer Kevan Pipe said. "It's a good thing, in a way."