For the first time this year, Canada’s men have managed to score more than one goal in a single soccer game.
The Canadians have struggled with putting the ball in the net as they’ve only had two in four games before facing Cuba at the BMO Field on Friday night.
In a press conference afterwards, Canadian head coach Stephen Hart was satisfied with the way the way his team executed on the field.
“I thought the first half was eventful,” he said. “I thought we attacked well and put them [Cuba] under a lot of pressure.”
Even though Tosaint Ricketts scored early in the first, it took 72 more minutes for Canada to finally come up with a second goal by Will Johnson, followed by a third from David Edgar in a span of five minutes.
Within those 72 scoreless minutes, Canada had many close opportunities in front of the Cuban goalkeeper but were not able to capitalize.
“When goals didn’t come we began to doubt ourselves for a bit and maybe lose a little discipline,” Hart said. “But in the second half we got it right and moved the ball patiently.”
For now, the coach is only focused on winning and not how many goals they are able to put away.
“We scored some goals and we won the game,” he said. “I told the players that our objective is to win the game and whatever happens, happens.
“And we did that. We scored some goals and I’ll take it.”
However, the win does not mean that the Canadians will advance to the CONCACAF qualifying easily. They still have to play their final game in Honduras on Tuesday and need either a win or tie to move on.
If Cuba defeats Panama on Tuesday, Canada will be able to advance with a loss to Honduras.
Heading into the match against Cuba, the red and white were sitting in third place tied with Honduras with seven points in group C.
But the standings changed after Canada’s win and Honduras’ tie on Friday. The win helped the home team move ahead with 10 points while Honduras’ 0-0 draw against Panama in the same night bumped them down to eight points. Panama now as 10 points as well.
Cuba, who is ranked No. 146 in the world, has not won any of the five games they’ve played so far but their head coach Alexander Gonzalez Garces thinks that Canada has a high chance of advancing.
“Panama has grown in the last couple of games but he sees Canada as a solid unified group and will give Honduras a run for their money,” he said through a Spanish interpreter in the post-game press conference.
During the Canadians practice on Thursday at BMO Field, Captain Kevin McKenna said he hopes that the cold will work towards his team’s advantage since Cuba is a warm country.
After the game, Garces admitted that his players were not used to the two-degrees weather they played in.
“That was a challenge his players had to overcome and he congratulates his players for getting through it,” the interpreter said through Garces.
Canada will hold a few practice sessions before flying out to Honduras for the final group match.