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  • Wednesday, June 21, 2000

    Canada, Guatemala tuning up here

    By KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

     Coming off an important 4-1 victory over an under-21 team from Italy's Inter Milan last Sunday, Canada's under-20 national soccer team is anticipating a good match against Guatemala on Friday in London.

     The Canadian players have been at a training camp in Toronto and will play three matches against the under-20 Guatemalan team, the first one at Cove Road field.

     "We were delighted by it (the Inter Milan win). At the same time, these three games against Guatemala will be important," said head coach Paul James, who was hired in 1998. "We're better and we're getting closer and closer."

     James said this is a tune-up for both teams before CONCACAF qualifying games next February.

     "We needed experience; we needed international games at this level and so did (Guatemala)," he said.

     Following the game in London, the teams will play in Scarborough on Sunday and in Guelph on Tuesday.

     "I really want the people to show that we can support Canada," said Harry Gauss, London City general manager. City will play the Oshawa Flames in Canadian Professional Soccer League action in the second match of the evening at Cove Road.

     Gauss is bringing in more seating to accommodate as many as 2,500 spectators.

     James said he wanted to bring his team to a couple of places outside of Toronto.

     "It's good for us to promote the game in smaller communities."

     Londoner Semir Mesanovic, who is still in the pool of national under-20 players, will not play Friday.

     "At this stage, in the positions that he plays (midfielder and striker), we have some other players that we needed to look at. Quite frankly, we think they're better suited than Semir is at present. But I'll say this, I really like Semir. He's got a tremendous attitude and he definitely has some things to offer. He might get the opportunity down the road again with us," James said.

     Mesanovic is heading to Turkey to see if he can impress a professional team there. "That would help him a lot. It would certainly make us consider him again," James said.

     He said he encourages players to get some experience in Europe.

     "Ian Hume, for example, was really the man of the match for us the other day. He's two years younger (16) than these players. He's been in England.

     "It is a factor when players go and play it Europe and that's what I say about Semir. If Semir ends up catching on, it will help him."

     Hume scored two of Canada's goals in the win over Inter Milan.

     Other players that James has been impressed with include forward Julian DeGuzman, a Toronto native, who has been playing with Saarbrucken and Edmontonian Tam Nsaliwa, a midfielder, who's been with Nuremburg.

     James said the three-game series with Guatemala is another learning experience for his crew.

     "We're anticipating they'll be formidable opponents. It will be good for us because Central American teams play a different style so it will be good for our players to experience that."

     Canadian men's coach Holger Osieck might be in attendance Friday. He's told staff at the Canadian Soccer Association he plans to be at the match.



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