With only days before the opening kickoff, the focus from Canadian national team coach Colin Miller is solely on the task at hand, which is Martinique, a team that is making its return after a 10 year absence from the tournament. Miller is definitely upbeat about the preparations, but put concerns on the status about Randy Edwini-Bonsu, who picked up a knock during training and is questionable for the match on Sunday.
As for the Martinique team, Miller says while he hasn't been able to find much major intelligence on them, he has been able to refer to that team's recent friendly against the Portland Timbers U-23s, a game that the visitors won 2-1. On the other hand, the goal of Canada's match against the Ventura County Fusion that ended in a 1-1 draw, was to give everyone at least 45 minutes of game practice. While it sounds scary that our national team couldn't beat a PDL team, Miller assures that game practice was the goal, and not victory. "It's like the first team playing against a reserve team, for the most part the reserve team will always beat the first team, because there's so much to play for...and anyone who reads into the result of that game too much would be foolish."
For the game itself, the coach is clear that the team is in a must-win situation. Mexico and Panama will be looking at their matches with Canada as must-win games, and the Canadians will be in no position to be looking down on Martinique. While Miller has taken some steps in preparing for the other two matches in Group A, even going as far as admitting that Mexico is a conveyor belt of talent and he admired the work of Panama, he does not divulge much on those plans for fear of the team potentially taking their eyes off the task at hand.
When asked about the selection of Will Johnson to wear the captain's armband, he says the Portland defender has shown leadership qualities within the Canadian team, while his work leading the Timbers made him a natural choice, stating he had "...certainly admired Will for some time now, it's just been unfortunate this will be the first time I've been able to work with him...[and] he brings a winning mentality, and a fierce competitiveness to his play."
As for the rest of the squad, Miller did acknowledge that some members of the squad are younger, and the plan is to slowly feed them into the system. "They're coming from their own club environment where they're fairly comfortable, now they're coming into a national team environment where it's a step higher obviously. So to throw a full team of young lads into the fixture against Martinique wouldn't be the right away to go."
In a separate question, Miller also singlesd out Jonathan Osorio, Keven Aleman and Kyle Bekker as stand out young players at camp, but stressed that they will be worked into the lineups, which may mean bench sub roles rather than starting. As for the goalkeeping situation, the coach wouldn't divulge who he was favouring for the start on Sunday, only saying that the competition is still on and all three (Lars Hirschfeld, Simon Thomas and Milan Borjan) are "sharp and lively".
Finally, when quizzed on Ryan Nelsen and Kevin Payne's comments lobbed towards the CSA, Miller stayed mum, refusing to enter a war of words with the TFC skipper while adding a subtle dig back at the way the two had handled their objections, stating, "I'll keep my comments to within the association and TFC [and] will keep my comments private, that's the best way to handle business."