Benito Floro (pictured) has Canada on the precipice of a place in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. (Photo: Mexsport)
TORONTO -- Following Canada’s 3-0 win over Belize on Friday, head coach Benito Floro marveled to the media about a feat never achieved in his 35 years of coaching.
"It's the first time in my life as a professional that my team didn't receive any shots on target," Floro said. "It means our team has played a very good game."
The stat was evidence of a well-executed strategy that focused on possession in the first leg of the third-round World Cup Qualifying series.
With Canada managing the ball for a majority of the encounter, the Central Americans found it difficult to mount an offense. Recognizing a potential problem, Belize placed nine or 10 players behind the ball in an effort to withstand the pressure.
Belize assistant coach Carlos Slusher insisted that constructing a defensive shell was not the initial strategy.
"We cannot defend against a good team. If we defend, we will always get hurt," said the 43-year-old, a former Belize international goalkeeper. "That was definitely not our game plan to come here and defend. But it happened."
Canada outshot Belize 25-0, but the final tally of goals relative to possession and chances spotlighted finishing questions. It was an issue at the recent CONCACAF Gold Cup, in which the side went scoreless in three matches.
Floro lamented a "lack of understanding" in front of the goal that prevented Canada from padding its lead.
"The result, a little short, but good," the former Real Madrid manager remarked.
Striker Tosaint Ricketts netted two of Canada's three goals and didn't seem as concerned.
"As an attacker, as long as we're getting chances I think things are okay," said Ricketts, who also scored twice in the previous qualifier against Dominica on June 16. "If you get enough chances the ball's going to get put in anyway, so it's better to get chances than to not get any."
That theory will be put to the test again, when Canada visits Belize on Tuesday, needing only a draw or a loss by two or less to guarantee progression.