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‘Nervous period of time’ as coach Herdman, Canada’s men’s soccer team make final preparations for World Cup

John Herdman led the Canadian men’s soccer team into Dubai on Wednesday night, upfront of one final tune-up in opposition to Japan on Thursday earlier than their first World Cup in 36 years. His usually meticulous plans had been undone virtually instantly.

“A bit of a difficult journey day,” he stated. 

The Canadians had educated at their World Cup base camp in Qatar earlier than making their brief flight to Dubai. Their aircraft arrived 90 minutes early. Counterintuitively, maybe, that made the remaining of the night’s agenda harder, not much less.

They had been meant to go straight from the airport to Al Maktoum Stadium, a 15,000-seat venue that is extra often house to Al Nasr SC of the UAE Pro League, slightly after 7 p.m. native time. Herdman was to speak to the media, and the gamers had been going to stroll on the grass, as although they might study one thing by the texture of it.

Instead, they arrived to horrendous rush-hour visitors, simply when the Japanese started their very own coaching session below Al Maktoum’s lights.

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To forestall spying or tampering, FIFA guidelines prohibit one team from being in a stadium whereas one other team trains. Rather than head for their lodge, wait for the appointed arrival time, and get again on the bus to combat the visitors twice, Herdman elected to provide his team the evening off.

“There had been loads of drained, drained boys,” he stated. “The key now could be the fellows get their meals and get to mattress and get excited for this large sport.”

For Herdman, the sheer terror that should have accompanied the abrupt change in plans — he is so fanatical in his strategy, he personally maps the routes the team bus takes — was maybe offset by the possibility for him to spend a number of further minutes obsessing over all the things that is to return. He might need needed his gamers to sleep. He wasn’t about to catch a lot.

“There’s loads going by means of my thoughts,” he stated. “It’s a bit of nervous period of time.”


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Herdman simply is not the kind of one who breezes into something, not to mention a World Cup. Playing Japan in any respect at this stage is emblematic of his relentless strategy. To his thoughts, nothing can actually put together you for the largest video games of your profession. All you are able to do is play, after which play some extra.

Unfortunately, each minute on the sphere carries threat with it, as Doneil Henry realized earlier than final week’s pleasant in opposition to Bahrain. The Canadian defender tried to push by means of calf tightness throughout warmups, ended up with a tear, and can now miss the World Cup as a participant, at the least. He will nonetheless accompany the team to Qatar.

Herdman’s worry of additional attrition in opposition to Japan is outweighed by his want to hit the desert floor operating. “It’s about entering into worldwide rhythm,” he stated.

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The Japanese, making their seventh consecutive World Cup look, play a extremely organized model that is tough to crack, they usually’ll be a stiff take a look at for the Canadians, who open their second-ever men’s event in opposition to vaunted Belgium on Nov. 23.

“Their collective mentality, their tactical acumen,” Herdman stated. “I feel that is going to be a extremely tough match for Canada, however we would like a tough sport.”

Herdman is so eager on the work, he is even scheduled a further 45 minutes of play in opposition to a neighborhood skilled team after. Thursday’s ambiance clearly will not be something just like the frenzy of the World Cup, and nerves will little question nonetheless floor upon the team’s return to Doha. But like a boxer leaping rope, the Canadians ought to profit from a comparatively low-pressure probability to seek out their toes.

It’s additionally one final alternative for his team to acclimate to native situations. The forecast excessive for Thursday in Dubai is 34 levels. (It is likely to be a dry warmth, nevertheless it’s nonetheless highly regarded.) It shall be slightly cooler at kickoff, scheduled for 5:40 PM native time, as the solar goes down on this sprawling, glittering metropolis.

John Herdman will little question see a lot of Dubai’s nighttime sparkle — so lengthy as his new plans embrace the occasional look out his hotel-room window whereas he continues his preparations.

If there’s ever a time for him to relaxation, now is not it. Now is the time of his life.

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