Via a media conference call today, CMNT Head Coach Stephen Hart spoke candidly about a number of topics related to the match against Greece and the National Team in general:
On the fact that he will only will have the players in for only one training session and the match while in Greece:
I think the way I am looking at it is that it is an international game against a very tough team who will be playing at home. So you hope that the players get some experience out of the game, playing against players of a different sort of quality. These short exhibition dates are always difficult for Canadian teams. In the end, it is important to play the games and what you get out of it in terms of experience and competition is invaluable.
On players not being available for the Greece match:
There were a couple of players whose schedules really didn't fit in. They were playing late on Sunday or had games on Monday. We just had to deal with that the best we could and we got most of the players that we wanted in. And, outside of injuries, I'm comfortable with the squad.
On the challenges the team will face playing against Greece:
Greece is not an opponent we will be playing on a regular basis. What we do when we go into these types of games is that we have been telling the players that it is more important to do the things that we do as a team and that we do well as a team. Of course, you go into the game to play to win and get a result, but it's more important how we play, how we approach the game, how we manage the game and that those sorts of building blocks are the most important things for us.
On Blackburn Rovers forward Junior Hoilett:
I did (reach out to him for this game) but it is the same story. He just says please give him some time. It's the same situation. I have been after him for every outing that we have had and that is no secret. I think he would acknowledge that as well. I'll keep knocking on the door. I can't answer that (whether he will join the team at some point). That decision is entirely up to him. I have extended my hand and he knows exactly how we feel about having him onboard.
On the fact that other CONCACAF rivals have been playing a lot of recent matches:
It's what our situation is. We are trying to play as many games as possible. We don't have the luxury of the Caribbean Cup or a Latin American tournament like they just completed. The only situation available to us is the Gold Cup and then outside of that we have been trying to play on all of the International dates where possible. They have the luxury of those extra tournaments and it helps with their rankings and their team building. But when you go to coach Canada you know that is the sort of situation you are going to be in.
On the few MLS Players being selected for this match and the fact that MLS players are in preseason meant he tried to select as few as possible:
Yes, of course. I spoke to some of the players and told them that it was most likely that they wouldn't be invited in and they understood the situation. I did have to call in a few MLS players based on positional needs. I would much prefer that they get into their preseason and get themselves into match shape. But they answered the call and that's most important thing.
On Paul Stalteri:
I did speak with Paul at length about his situation and what he is trying to do. In the discussion, I told him that I wouldn't be bringing him in for this game and he understands the situation completely. He has not been playing and he's trying to rectify his situation. Once he gets playing again we will keep an on eye on him to see how he is progressing.
On his starting eleven for Greece:
I have an idea what the starting eleven will be but we still have games that will be played today and on the weekend. And I don't know who will end up calling us - like what just happened with Kevin McKenna (who had to pull out of the Greece match at the last minute due to injury).
On Ali Gerba:
I spoke to Ali a while back and did speak to his club. As I said, my intention was to not bring in players from MLS or NASL or USL. I'm usually in good communication with Ali and his preseason will start soon and I'll get a chance to see him.
On the absence of Mike Klukowski:
It's probably best that you speak with Mike. He has some personal issues and it doesn't really allow him to travel very far from home for any length of time. We have spoken at length and hopefully he will be okay and that situation will be resolved soon.
On selecting Simeon Jackson for the Greece match and not selecting Iain Hume:
As you know, Simeon has been filling in on the right side with the National Team. Iain's primary playing position is up front just behind the striker and we felt that we needed somebody in the wide right position. It's as simple as that.