Canada gains experience, progresses at CMOQ

Canada's Molham Babouli (pictured) celebrates after scoring against Cuba in the CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship on October 6, 2015, in Commerce City, Colorado. (Photo: Mexsport)

COMMERCE CITY, Colorado – It has not gone unnoticed that Canada is missing some key players at the 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship.

Case in point: Orlando City SC forward Cyle Larin, who has scored 15 goals in 25 games during the current Major League Soccer campaign.

That’s why head coach Benito Floro admitted that drawing 2-2 with Cuba in the final Group A game was a notable accomplishment, especially when roster matters are taken into consideration.

“Cuba is a very good team,” said the former Real Madrid manager. “Cuba has a very good level, individual and collective, so it is not easy for us to win the game.

“We have five or six important players out. These boys, 50% of them, do not have competitive experience. They are fighting a lot. They are trying to be protagonists of the game.”

Despite the stalaemate, the Canadians finished as group runner-up, earning a place in the semifinals after Panama bowed out following a 4-0 loss to the United States. Floro’s side will face defending champion Mexico on Saturday in Sandy, Utah, for a place in the final and a direct berth to the 2016 Olympic Games.

Since time is short before for the final-four showdown, the Spaniard already knows what needs to be done to prepare for what promises to be the biggest challenge yet.

“The most important matter is to regenerate the player, physically and mental because the next game will be very, very important for us,” Floro noted.

Three years ago, Canada fell to the Mexicans, 3-1, at the same stage of the competition. It hasn’t participated in an Olympic Games since 1984.

What would be the significance of getting over the hurdle this time?

“It means that if we go ahead and win the semifinal, it will be the sky for us,” Floro finished. “These players will be happy for their lives.”

And so would Floro for guiding them to those heights.