The Canadian Men's National Soccer team held their second practice at BMO Field on Monday around lunch time. There was a lot more of a media presence there today, as most of the reporters did not want to show up at 4 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. The guys at Sportsnet and GOL TV pretty much asked all the same questions I asked on Sunday, getting Hart to go over the nil-nil game on Friday. But the players and head coach elaborated a little more on a couple topics.
One of which was how the team deals with fatigue. The majority of the squad's current crop of players play abroad, and the travel can end up being the biggest challenge the CMNT faces. Josh Simpson is one player who knows a lot about traveling from Europe. Simpson has played a crucial part in Canada's early qualifiers, and he said every team has to go through long flights during World Cup Qualifying.
"It's not exactly easy but you have to deal with it," Simpson said. "It's a long way but what are you going to do about it?"
Simpson also touched upon the atmosphere in camp now that the team has qualified.
"The guys are feeling good. As a team we're a little bit disappointed with the last couple of games," Simpson said. "Obviously we'd like to clearly win these games. But it's not always easy because when you pin these guys in a corner (St.Kitt's, and Puerto Rico), they're going to play."
"So guys(media and fans) are saying this is an easy game to walk in and win five nil, you know, they're not on the pitch. It's not just look at the paper and figure out the results. This is the World Cup. It means everything, to every footballer," Simpson said. "These games that we just came through, they can be difficult. We're playing weaker opposition that can surprise you, they can totally play totally different from what you're expecting. Whereas with other teams, we can study them, and actually see what we're up against."
Some other news out of the camp was that Stephen Hart said a couple players picked up knocks during practice over the past two days, but when I asked him who those players were I got "No, it's okay." followed by some laughs. See that interview here on Waking The Red's You Tube Channel
And the final notes from today came from Will Johnson, where he commented on Simeon Jackson's role on the squad and his struggles to get regular playing time at Norwich City.
"He's a really big part of our squad. I knew Simeon when he was playing in the Conference with the Under 20's," Johnson said. "To see the player he's turned into is amazing. He's a top player, and obviously I'm sure he's doing everything he can to rectify his club situation because he wants to be playing for Norwich and he wants to be sharp."
Johnson said Jackson can score goals in the bunches, but he's a very humble guy.
"He's not big time. He's got his feet firmly planted on the ground, so he's the kind of player we need playing for Canada," Johnson said. "He's playing at a very high level, but at the same time, he's willing to put in the hard work and put in the time required to play for Canada. It's something he's quite proud of."
Many know Jackson's story, he started at non-league side Rushden and Diamonds, from there he was sold to Gillingham, then moved on up to Norwich and was a part of their promotion to the Premier League.
"Simeon left Brampton at 15, I mean he just packed his bags and went for it," Johnson said. "I have a lot of respect for that, and I know a lot of people do it. I don't think many people realize truly how difficult it is to come into his situation."
"He's got a lot of people believing in him now and he's got a whole country on his shoulders."