Welcome to Partially Obstructed View. We are each restrained by the limits of our own perspective, but when we meet to share information a clearer picture of the truth can be revealed. Comments & criticisms are welcome.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Perspective - Luck of the Draw

    Considering all the Jabulani’s* that have been launched Canada’s way in qualifying campaigns there could not have been a better draw for the 2014 qualifying cycle.

     Despite the lowly ranking of 105 – in the most recent FIFA rankings - the reconfigured process has placed Canada in a second round group with St. Kitts & Nevis, Puerto Rico, and St. Lucia. The only lower seeded team of concern was Guatemala, which Canada managed to avoid.

     Though some would deem having to go through this extra step an insult it is in truth a gift. These extra six matches are six more opportunities for the squad to assemble, six more attempts at familiarizing the players with the system and each other, and six more exercises in confidence building.

     Momentum is something that Canada has rarely had – playing so few matches per year – and these extra fixtures will provide ample opportunity to progress to the next round with some forward propulsion. Assuming similar timing for the subsequent rounds – judging by the 2010 qualifying campaign - should Canada progress there will be room for several celebratory centennial friendlies over the course of next summer before a fall schedule to complete the third round of qualifying followed by a Spring 2013 fourth round that would determine entry to the 2014 World Cup.

     Looking at the fixture timeline from May of 2010 Canada has slowly built for this qualifying cycle. Six different camps have allowed a squad to be assembled – the South American excursion, the Toronto-Montreal September 2010 friendlies, Ukraine, Greece, and Turkey, as well as the 2011 Gold Cup and preceding fixture versus Ecuador. Ignoring the disappointing results at the Gold Cup these opportunities to assemble the squad and work out the kinks will be of great benefit in the upcoming campaign.

     The second phase of the draw has placed Canada’s group in Group C with Honduras and Cuba as the seeded pair and one of Panama, Dominica, Nicaragua, and the Bahamas. Again, a stroke of fortune to have avoided the powerhouse duo of the USA and Mexico, as well as procuring the weakest of those seeded in Cuba.

     Canada’s difficulty with Honduras is well known, and one could argue that not having a dominant team – one expected to win all points both at home and away – could open up a group to some surprising results, but that is just what Canada needs; for each game to be of equal importance so as to retain focus and commitment regardless of the opposition. Too often a difficult game against an opponent they were not expected to challenge has been a stumbling block that fouls up an entire campaign – as the disappointing 2-0 loss to the US in Detroit did to the Gold Cup.

     Without a single fixture to focus on or overlook the route to the hexagonal 4th round is a straight and clear goal. With some positive momentum and continued good fortune Canada can set themselves up for their best chance at qualification in years.

*- Synonom for curveballs

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