Canada claims point with last-minute goal in South America
Posted on 29 May 2010 in Men's National TeamCanada's men's national team concluded its South American trip with a last-minute goal by Gavin McCallum in a 1:1 draw with Venezuela. McCallum scored on a header from an Issey Nakajima-Farran free kick just outside the penalty area.
"I was just doing a bit of movement in the box, thinking I would go near, but then gambled, went back and got the ball on my head," said Canadian debutant McCallum. "It was a great ball in and it was great to come away with a point."
Canada's South American trip featured a match in Buenos Aires, Argentina on 24 May and tonight in Mérida, Venezuela on 29 May. Canada lost its first match to two-time FIFA World Cup champion Argentina, but then pulled back with a a 1:1 draw against Venezuela at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano de Mérida.
"There are several players that we would like to see again," said Canadian national head coach Stephen Hart. "It wasn't a proper camp environment because the short number of days and the travel in between. In the opportunity the players had in the game, however, some players showed that they want to be seen again."
Hart and the Canadian staff saw 25 players over the South American trip. Of note, six players made their international debut on this trip - Pedro Pacheco and Adam Straith against Argentina and Haidar Al-Shaïbani, Terry Dunfield, Gavin McCallum and Gianluca Zavarise against Venezuela. Other new players are Massih Wassey (first year), Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgeault (second year) and Eddy Sidra (second year).
"Talking to some of the other new guys, (we agreed) it was an amazing experience, even just to be on the bench," said McCallum. "Then for me to get on and score, it was amazing to do that in front of all those people."
The Canada-Venezuela match was played in front of 20,000 fans. The match was also played at 1,600 metres altitude, so the team was notably tired after the match.
"With the conditions, catching your breath was definitely difficult," said Nakajima-Farran. "We fought to the end and I thought we deserved to come away with a point."
The staff now returns to Canada while the players return to their professional clubs, some of whom will have the summer off during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. The coaching staff will be scouting matches, most notably those in Major League Soccer in the month of June. Canada will then regroup in early September before playing a pair of international friendly matches at home - 4 September against Peru at BMO Field in Toronto and 7 September against Honduras at Stade Saputo in Montréal.