Not ready to revel, Canada prepares for Cuba

Samuel Piette (pictured #14) is the only player on Canada's 2015 CONCACAF Men's Olympic Qualifying Championship roster to have also played in the 2012 edition of the event. (Photo: Mexsport)

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – After bouncing back from an opening 3-1 loss to the United States with a win by the same score against Panama in the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, Canada’s reaction to the reversal of fortune was not an expected one.

Rather than be in celebratory mode, the mood was quite serious and self-critical in nature.

“To be honest, I thought we played better in the first game,” remarked midfielder Samuel Piette.

Canada head coach Benito Floro said: “My opinion is that we played bad, really bad, offensively and defensively. It is true we had a lot of opportunities, but our team suffered a lot when we fell the other day (to the U.S.). In this game, we could say that we have good luck.”

The Canadians will hope that the good luck and improved results continue on Tuesday, when they face Group B rival Cuba, knowing that a win will assure them of a place in the semifinals. 

In its opening two games, Cuba tied Panama (1-1) and lost to the U.S. (6-1). Despite those results, Floro has been impressed by what he’s seen from the Caribbean runner-up, but noted that getting three points ahead of that encounter was crucial.

“Cuba’s game against Panama was a great one,” the former Real Madrid manager commented. “They both played really well and what we saw was very neat. We feel really good about taking three points (against Panama). It will boost our performance.”

There’s been a building chemistry in the Canadian team that has not gone unnoticed by Piette. 

“The group is getting along really well,” said the 20-year-old, who already has 19 caps for the senior squad. “This is only our second week together, so we didn’t have much time to get prepared. I’m really surprised with all our guys. It is the second game that we played together. We didn’t have friendly games before. A great performance against the U.S. Today’s performance wasn’t as great, but we got three points. It is good for our confidence going into the last game of the group.

“I’m really happy with all the guys and I think the staff as well is, so it’s good for us.”

As would a win against Cuba.