Canada Prepares For Physical Clash Against Panama in CNL Semi-Final
A smiling John Herdman walked into the press room at Alliegant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, and looked ready for what the media was going to throw at him.
“With Panama, there is continuity,” Herdman said when asked about his scouting report -and he actually gave credit to his counterpart Thomas Christiansen.
“I thought Thomas has done a fantastic job there. He is one of the top coaches in this region and he always has a very clear plan. His players are committed to that identity.”
Herdman also believes that Panama is one of the best teams in Concacaf, and that they will be very hard to beat.
“When you get a semi-final against Panama, you know it is going to be one hell of a game. It’s not easy.”
Tactically, Herdman also was able to give us a picture of how he is expecting Panama to line up tomorrow in terms of formation.
“They have been playing with a back five. We have been scouting them and I also see him playing with a back four in a typical 4-2-4 with a box mid-field that can even evolve the system into a 3-4-3 with similar principles and different structure,” he said.
Herdman couldn’t hold back his excitement and said his team is super excited about the challenge.
“We’re excited. We are always excited to play, it is always a bit feisty and I am looking forward to this one.”
Herdman was asked about his thoughts on how his team has been perceived recently and he is happy to report it is very positive from the outside world.
“I think we proved a lot to the outside world, the media in Europe and the rest of the world were very surprised by Canada’s performance at the World Cup”.
The head coach was clear when he said that despite the criticism his team has got from the local media, his team pays no attention to it and focuses on the task at hand.
“The external noise isn’t important to us. What is important is we are clear on our vision, and there is a mission to take this country to the next level.”
Herdman spoke about the importance of winning a trophy and feels the experiences in Concacaf and on the world stage at the World Cup have helped.
“We reached new levels in Concacaf and at the world stage, and another level for us is a trophy. Wth it, you build more trust – and we need more trust in winning big moments.”
Jason DeVos, who used to be on Herdman’s coaching staff, is now the general secretary of Canada Soccer. Herdman gave his sense of what he thinks is a good move and will only help the federation move forward.
“I think Jason DeVos has been a pivotal appointment and I think his leadership and his style have represented the country and the maple leaf in a way not many people do.”
Herdman truly believes DeVos has integrity and that the way he does his job won’t be swayed by anyone.
“The thing about Jason is that he won’t be in anyone’s pocket and he’s not trying to climb a ladder somewhere else, putting his own interest before anyone else. I believe we are in good hands. The board has supported him and I am excited but at the same time, we come into this tournament with four days of prep.”
“Panama has played one game already, Mexico has played a game, and everyone has been in camp for ten days. There are elements of change but it has to change quickly.”
Herdman was bluntly asked if he sees the light at the end of the tunnel in terms of getting more funding and proper training camps.
“I can only control what I can control and continue bringing my passion to wherever I can bring it, to influence and fire up and to move the needle to where the vision might not be clear.”
“We have come a long way on both the men’s and women’s side. It has been an exciting journey and it’s a challenge that we are all taking, but we still have a long way to go.”
Canada is the favorite going into the game against Panama and Herdman was asked about the pressure of being a favorite and avoiding the potential upset.
“Pressure is a privilege. This is what we have been wanting. Now we are a football nation and a football country so for Panamanians to describe Canada as the favorite is such a compliment for our sport.”
Herdman believes, due to the short turnaround, not to expect a quick start from his team and that it will take time for them to settle in and get to work.
“For that first 15-20 minutes we will be at a disadvantage. It takes time for the team to get rhythm and gel but after that, there is no excuse so we have to manage it and adapt tactically and we have to show we are the favorites.”
Kickoff is scheduled for Thursday at 7:00 pm Eastern and can be seen on OneSoccer.