2009 year in review: Canada returns to form under new coach Stephen Hart

Canada’s men’s national team finished the year with the official hiring of new head coach Stephen Hart, but it in fact returned to form with a promising run at the CONCACAF Gold Cup when Hart served as interim head coach throughout the 2009 season. After a disappointing FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign in 2008, the Canadian team finished first in its group and reached the quarter-final stage before falling 0:1 to Honduras on a penalty-kick goal.



Overall, Canada posted a record of four wins, one draw and three losses in 2009. It posted four-straight wins from 30 May through 7 July, including back-to-back victories against Jamaica and El Salvador at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Canada scored eight goals and allowed seven goals against.

Canada’s men’s national team finished the year with the official hiring of new head coach Stephen Hart, but it in fact returned to form with a promising run at the CONCACAF Gold Cup when Hart served as interim head coach throughout the 2009 season. After a disappointing FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign in 2008, the Canadian team finished first in its group and reached the quarter-final stage before falling 0:1 to Honduras on a penalty-kick goal.



Overall, Canada posted a record of four wins, one draw and three losses in 2009. It posted four-straight wins from 30 May through 7 July, including back-to-back victories against Jamaica and El Salvador at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Canada scored eight goals and allowed seven goals against.



In all, there were 178 FIFA members whose men’s teams played matches in 2009. Those 178 teams took part in 850 international matches and scored 2,204 goals – an average of 2.59 goals per game. Spain, Brazil and Netherlands were the top ranked countries on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings.



Thirty-two of CONCACAF’s 35 nations were in action in 2009, including 12 that took part in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. USA, the number-one ranked country in CONCACAF, also participated in the FIFA Confederations Cup South Africa 2009. By year’s end on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings, Canada ranked fifth amongst CONCACAF nations (behind USA, Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica) and 56th amongst all nations (up 44 spots since the end of 2008).



As for top performers, 22-year old striker Simeon Jackson was the male selection for the 2009 Canadian Players of the Year award. He scored in his debut with the national team on 30 May 2009 in Cyprus, but he made a bigger impression at the club level where he scored with regularity. Jackson not only scored in league play with Gillingham, earning his club a promotion from League Two to League One, but he also scored in cup competitions against Premiership sides Aston Villa and Blackburn.



Striker Ali Gerba led the national team with four goals, two of which were scored at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. It marked the second-straight year that Gerba led the national team in goals scored. Defender Mike Klukowski and midfielder Julian de Guzman, meanwhile, were both named tournament All-Stars at the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup.



Under Hart, Canada’s national team invited 33 players to its numerous camps over the course of the 2009 season. Five players made their national debut in 2009: Jackson, Jonathan Beaulieu-Bourgault, Tyler Hemming, Dominic Imhof and Eddy Sidra.



Canada is a two-time CONCACAF champion, having won the confederation title in 1985 and 2000. With those victories, Canada qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico and FIFA Confederations Cup Korea/Japan 2001. Canada has also participated in three Men’s Olympic Football Tournaments – 1904 as champions, 1976, and 1984.

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