PASADENA, California– On the eve of its start to the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup against Martinique on Saturday, Canada is brimming with excitement to take the field.
“I was telling the players today that the first game is the most important game to really set the tone. When we started this journey my message was that talent isn’t enough, there’s got to be more than that,” said Canada Head Coach John Herdman in a pre-match press conference on Friday.
“The players are just ready to go. I can’t wait for this game to come. There is enthusiasm from the players, there’s no trepidation there. They know what they’ve got to get done in this first match and every game after that. There’s a clear mission here and the first game will hopefully be one of many,” added Herdman.
Joining Herdman in Friday’s press conference was MF and captain Scott Arfield.
The 30-year-old will lead a young, talented group of players looking to make a big statement about Canadian football in the region.
“I think it’s a fantastic opportunity to see this talent come to fruition, since the manager’s come in the last five or six games, you’ve seen this talent progress and I think everyone is starting to take notice at how good this squad is,” said Arfield.
There is also plenty of history between Canada and Martinique, including the opening match of Group A six years ago in the 2013 Gold Cup which was won by Martinique with a last-minute goal.
While many of the faces have changed, Herdman feels like there are plenty of lessons to be learned from that 1-0 defeat for the Canadians.
“Martinique is able to bring their players almost on a weekly basis, that brings tactical cohesion, team spirit. We have respect for them because we’ve done the work, we’ve done the prep. We looked at that 2013 game as well. I went back and watched that 90 minutes and got a good sense at how the heat impacted Canada and the occasion as well, so I think now we’ve got a group of men ready for that. It’ll be a tough match,” concluded Herdman.