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    CHRONO SPORTS

  • Thursday, May 11, 2000

    McKenna in a sleepless dreamworld

    By GEORGE JOHNSON -- Calgary Sun

     It's midnight in Cottbus, Germany. But Kevin McKenna isn't dreaming.

     To dream you need to be able to sleep.

     "The week before the second round of the Olympic qualifying, I started having trouble getting any shuteye at night,'' says McKenna. "I'd stare at the ceiling. Toss and turn. I'd get sweaty feet. Well, I'm starting to repeat those nights. What's coming up has finally hit me.

     "Internationally, these are the big leagues.

     "Sleep? The night Holger (Osieck) called me, I couldn't even shut my eyes.''

     Despite a seven-month battle with a nerve problem in his back, irregardless of the fact that he hasn't seen any game action with Energie-Cottbus of the German second division this season, McKenna has made the cut on the Canadian soccer team readying for two friendlies and then a key two-game World Cup playoff in June.

     Canada takes on Trinidad-Tobago in Toronto on May 27 and Honduras in Winnipeg three days later.

     McKenna has never been capped internationally before.

     The 20-year-old Calgarian, a 6-ft. 4-in. central defender, did enough at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Hershey, Pa., to draw the attention of Osieck, looking to reload for the World Cup preps.

     "I liked what I saw,'' he explained.

     Obviously. Considering the nerve injury and his lack of front-line competitive duty of late, the kid's selection is quite an endorsement.

     "I've got to admit, I'm surprised,'' admits McKenna. "Particularly since the team is strong at the back. Honestly, I never thought this would come true so soon. I thought I'd have to wait at least a couple more years.''

     Considering many of Canada's veterans are coming off long European seasons, his wait probably won't be a long one.

     And playing at such a level might take a bit of the sting off a disappointing German campaign.

     "It's hell, just sitting and watching, playing for the second team,'' says McKenna. "I train with the first team, and we've had a very good season. If we stay where we are, in third place, we move up to the Bundesliga first division next season.

     "Still, you're in the game to play.

     "Being chosen for this, well, maybe I'm starting to get things rolling again.

     "It's a dream come true.''

     Even if a fella can't fall asleep to dream about it.



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