Costa Rica national football team, Mexico national football team, Tourism JOHN HERDMAN on Canadian Men's National Team squad for upcoming World Cup Qualifying matches

I think for anyone in the sport. I don’t think anything’s uh how it used to be uh, but we have got all all the players that that we need for this particular game. Uh. You know a couple of players that were unavailable either through injury or some strict quarantine reasons, um jonathan david being one obviously, with the french quarantine rules, it made it very difficult to to get the player back, um and and realistically you know, fifa had mandated a Five day, maximum quarantine and the french sit on a seven day, quarantine ruling. So that was that was a bit tricky and i know jonathan’s got it, but we’ll we’ll see him later in the piece. Hopefully, when some of these restrictions left and then jonathan azzario, that was uh, that was a real tough one. On sunday he picked up a slight injury in his last training session before leaving for camp so yeah. He was a very late dropout, which um brought jaden nelson into the fold on a on late notice. So you know they’re, probably the the two that we’d penciled in for this camp, that we we really tried hard to to get and obviously with jonathan. It was just a stroke, a bad luck and in terms of the the realities that you know the realities. I have to say, with canada soccer it’s been a real team effort um. If anyone was to understand the sort of processes to to understand the quarantine rules, to even bring players in to the usa and find national interest exemptions and working with embassies in every one of the countries that these players came from, then working with the federations and The clubs to you know ensure that they were confident in our protocols and they were confident that their players would be safe and then, underneath all of that it’s the players, you know being able to help them understand.

They’Re going to travel across the world and you’ve got to really empathize and – and i take my hat off to these guys – you know they have families back home that are probably questioning their decisions to to come halfway around the world at this time in their careers And it just speaks volumes to, i think one. You know the brotherhood and what they’ve created here and wanting to be part of something and two how serious they’re taking this world cup qualification campaign. So you know massive respect to not only the the staff at canada soccer for the work they’ve put in to bring these guys in, but also you know to the players themselves. I mean just tremendous commitment: uh to represent their country yeah. The energy level is crazy. I mean i’m trying to curb the guys a little bit. I mean they’re, just so happy to be back. You don’t realize you know the friendship groups that we have here and even the guys that have come in ricardo ferreira. They just can’t believe how one how professional the environment is, but two just how nice the people are. How welcoming the the spirit in the group saw. Yeah people are happy to be back and at this same time like i say, you’ve also got to remind the group they’re on death, ground and and that’s uh that’s a reality check. You know that’s we’re here to again embrace every time that experience of being together with good players with the right intentions, but the reality check, not every game, there’s a difference and that you know there’s a time to really focus in and make sure that there’s real Tactical cohesion going into this first match i’m being aware for 16 months, but also there’s, that chemistry and connection between the guys that we know bodies will be put on the line in every moment, because, with this game against bermuda, what we know is they will bring A level of intensity – and the first thing we have to match is – is that intensity and part of the excitement? We know this friendship there, but you know that now has to move to that next level.

Where um, you know, people are willing to uh sacrifice for each other in this match, so great energy guys are loving being back, the staff will love them being back on the field again. We’Ve had no covered negative tests on the entry, which is fantastic. People have done a great job individually and collectively, and the team are primed to go. I wanted to ask about a tebow because he’s back in the team, after a lengthy absence, can you just sort of i thought you might like that one? Can you just sort of give your rationale about his inclusion? Please um, like every camp every camp, we have the conversation every couple of weeks. We were in touch with each other he’s, just one of those guys that you always want to to have part of your group. If you’ve ever worked with him, you realize he’s got a christine sinclair, like presence, he’s he’s, just uh one of those quiet, unassuming leaders, but you know when he’s there and you know when he’s not there, and i think he just brings a level of experience a Bit of an aura around these, these presents that young players look up to, but even the senior vets – and i think, that’s what’s special with with ativa he’s, got so much respect among those veterans like junior highland and milan boyan, stephen vittoria, that he sort of he Gives them someone to look up to so for us he’s? These presences is everything but he’s, not one of those guys you’re bringing into the environment because of his leadership, abilities, you’re, bringing him in because he’s on absolute fire in his club environment and whenever you speak to him, john it’s it’s.

The same the same answer to the question: if my body’s good i’ll be in john i’m committed, i want to see this country move to the next level. I like what you’ve created here. I love the the talent that’s in the system. He wants to be part of it, but at times when these international windows come up his body just isn’t ready and he has to go into that sort of two week – recovery mode to get him through his season. So you know for him to come in. Given that he’s fighting to to win a cup fighting to win a championship uh, it just tells you you know how important he he sees his role within this team but, more importantly, the opportunity that sits in front of him in this country. No, the red card didn’t, we we were able to secure national interest exemptions for a lot of these european players. So, like i said, it’s been a huge process. Um there was a sort of proclamation that came out from from joe biden, which changed a few things and then a few more changes to the rules, just as we thought we’d got on top of that, so it wasn’t. Until very recently, we were able to secure these exemptions through help through the canadian olympic committee. The u.s olympic committee, mls we’ve, had all sorts of people working to ensure that you know people from the shenyang region, which typically would have to take a 14 day stand down before they could enter america.

Uh could enter so you know alfonso he’s been traveling around germany getting visas. I mean he’s put in a shift to be here, uh, so that red card i mean you know i don’t. I didn’t think it was a red card to be fair. He he didn’t mean it bless him, but um yeah that had nothing to do with it. He, our kids mind’s, been pretty clear and as an organization, we never want to take a field with an mnt team without alfonzo davies in it. So and if you look at them, you know listed as a forward yeah that’s that’s the role you’ll be playing in this in this environment but, as i said, he has that flexibility. So you know in game changes very quickly. He could start at fullback and you know end up in a wide forward position in some games. We can operate with more of a wing back, so you know for us uh. I think he wants to be known when he wears his canadian shirt as a forward, and you know i’m happy to list him there that’s no problem, but where we play him well, you know that always is a conversation between me and him and then what the Tactics are for the game, so thanks thanks for that question. If you look at our reality, we’ve got two days to prepare a team. This is like new ground, for i think, a national team that hasn’t been together for 16 months two days to prepare so it’s part of the analysis coming in and preparing the team.

We’Ve got to be a bit more pragmatic and look at you know what club habits and where they’ve been effective for their club. So you know you think, back to that usa game the two nil win in october we had like you know. I think nine training sessions it was like eight day building to one match, so you can do a lot of work to shift a team into a an identity that that’s more representative of what we want to do and how we want to play. But on sort of three day turnarounds with two real training sessions, that’s all we’re getting and you know kyle’s only participating in one of them. Having only got in last night, you’ve got to really try and build it around. You know what he’s doing at club and and to use what his club habits will be, knowing that, when the game kicks off with only one training session, he’s going to revert back to his type. So if you’re asking us a question more long term, i’ve always said this, you know i’ve, never thought kyle is is being best suited to that out and out nine. I don’t think that’s that’s his best position when he came in to play with us in the new zealand camp. He spent most of his time playing between lines and it was there. It was a real, interesting awareness that you know, as we would change our structure in game to a back three and he played as that false nine.

He would uh. He would definitely have more impact on the game. So when you see him against besiktas playing um in that role, where he’s he’s a sort of loose wide forward and he’s able to just play in those half spaces in between lines, his greatest strength is how he ghosts into the box from them. Deep positions, and and for the first time, probably in his career, he’s, being able to not worry about being marked by two players and always locked up by two center backs now, he’s able to you know, use his uh his instincts to find those those those areas Of separation, there was those gaps in the box that are appearing naturally. Now so you know, will he plays a name for us? No johnny, david uh yeah. You know there’s a an option to play him up there. But again you know i’m gon na lean more heavily towards uh. You know how he plays a club and and what he you know, what he’s going to be uh instinctual at when the pressure comes on in the game. Well, he’s been a player, we’ve we’ve chased for a couple of years. If, if you see the always uh physically an unbelievable specimen, and whenever you hit at u23 level at a tier 1 or a tier 2 club in europe, you know our radars go up and that’s, where the the real tracking and the in depth analysis of a Player starts to come in, we speak to the club.

We speak to his academy director. We speak to the player and you probably haven’t heard too much about theo because he left tfc at the age of sort of 16 and and and headed into romania. He he became part of their youth system, so it became a two year process to try and entice him into the canadian men’s national team and into our program – and you know the january camp. He accepted the offer and then was called up to wolves’s first team and had to decline, unfortunately, and again just so happy to have him, because when you see him in camp he’s confidence, i just don’t think we’ve got a winger with that sort of profile and I’M super excited to uh to unleash him in these two games. I mean he’s, got ta, pass the test of stepping up in our environment and playing against better players, but yeah he’s, uh he’s, a one that we’ve tracked and chased. We got hold of him. He’S changed his association he’s committed to canada and i’m, hoping the public get a chance to see him across these two games. His height makes a difference. I would assume too right. Yeah physically he’s, he’s he’s different. You know you don’t see many wingers he’s he’s almost got that cristiano ronaldo type statue – you know he’s an upright player, but so direct uh just just wants to run and terrorize his full backs. So again, we’re we’re excited to see what he can do here when he’s playing against.

You know some some good international players. If you can provide us with an update on scott arfield, because i know he’s not in the camp – and i know steven gerrard made some headlines in october, saying he’s not going to international duty anymore, what what’s the situation with scott in terms of his representation yeah Thanks for that, one stephen gerald, we had scott uh i’d scott call us there pretty quickly after cna. I think the guff has dropped a bomb in the media, yeah um. No, i think, with scott it’s very clear, like he uh. He was due to come into the trinidad game in march and he’s been pretty vocal about his motivation in in playing for canada. Um, you know, playing these nations league games is being frustrating for him. You know playing a lot of games against sort of. In his mind and he’s not being um arrogant in any way, but i think in national team career typically, you would have friendly games in europe. You would be able to play like jamaica areas or the us you’d be at northern ireland or play in holland or belgium and that’s part of the growth of an international player. Every game for two years was against uh a team you’re beating five six nil, and then you get to a gold cup and you get one game against a mexico and – and i just think, it’s in people’s minds. You’Ve got to think of the motivation of these guys that are going to get on 13 hour flights.

They’Ve got to leave their families behind covert hits and and there’s new realities there and – and this guy is, is competing for a scottish championship. He was competing in europa league he’d started picking up niggles and one of his first injuries in his career was picked up. You know a little cough issue because he’d come off. The back of europa league came into our camp and picked up a little cough on international tour with us playing against dominica. So you can see there’s there’s a lot of factors that come into decisions with with scott. The one thing he’s been very clear on is he’s open minded. You know he. He said this year, i’m i’m committed to winning the title with rangers. You know we want to have a good push in the europa league and i think if they’d won the title. Three weeks earlier, i think the earliest they could have won. It was like march the 6th and we were like you know, fingers crossed. You know it was going to happen even earlier. If something could drop points in then it was a different conversation but i’m being very clear with scott. He knows, like you, don’t pick and choose at international level the message that sends the players isn’t isn’t great, but there are some pretty clear circumstances around him and i don’t think anyone questions his commitment because he’s turned up for us. Vr he’s turned up for dominica.

He turned up the two goal: cups in a row, so i think when the when the time’s right and his mind’s right and his body’s right similar to a teeba, you know we’ll see him, pull that red shirt on again and you and you still have a Stacchio available, who is had a marvelous season? What have you liked about him? Well, i think the the thing is with with scott you know: if scott’s not coming in, then you, you really are turning the screws on a t bit and if a team is not coming in you’re turning the screws on scott, because we do have a really Good midfield here you know: we’ve got david waterspoon who’s just won a a scottish championship. Uh sorry, a title: a scottish cup um. It was a very good player and fits our profile. What we look for in that midfield, so you know, hopefully this camp will give him a chance, but obviously, stefan is a: is a player that’s really accelerated since he’s come back from his injury, you know i’m really happy. We were able to to take him from portugal because i think his uh his stock is on the rise. I think his international career will help raise that stock and my assumption is he’ll, be on a you know. A big move in the summer and we’ll see him moving to a level now, where he’s going to bring another sort of layer and performance level to this canadian team.

So all in all, i think our midfield looks good it’s, it’s, healthy and there’s some good depth. There with mark anthony care, jonathan azzario, sam pierre to teba hutchinson, scott arfield, david waterspoon and then you’ve got people like ralph prision, knocking on the door liam fraser, michael baldissimo, who we’ve seen at the u 23s yeah it’s um it’s it’s, coming together.

What do you think?

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