By Norman Da Costa
Toronto Star Sports Reporter
A vocal crowd armed with Canadian flags packed Varsity Stadium yesterday,
unfortunately the national team was a near no-show.
Playing its first game at home since being crowned champions of the CONCACAF
region in February, Canada looked listless but still managed to pull out a 1-0 victory
over Trinidad and Tobago in an exhibition game before a sellout crowd of 8,870 on a
Coach Holger Osieck was not overly concerned with the sub-par performance
because several of his European-based players were seeing action for the first time in
the two weeks since their seasons ended.
``I cannot say I am disappointed,'' said Osieck. ``I didn't really expect
a brilliant game
as most of our players were coming off a layoff, but we did create a few chances.
``The important thing is that I saw some positives from some of the players
and it was
part of our preparation for the World Cup qualifier next weekend,'' added Osieck, who
has a 12-game unbeaten streak dating back to July 9, 1999, when Canada lost 2-0 to
The only goal came in the 51st minute through midfielder Jeff Clarke. Clarke
brought down outside the penalty area and Martin Nash's free kick, lobbed into the
penalty area, was powerfully headed in by Clarke, his first for the national team.
``I will remember this for the rest of my life,'' said Clarke.
Canada had two opportunities in the first half with Paul Peschisolido missing
glorious chance and minutes later Carlo Corazzin had his fierce shot punched over the
bar by goalkeeper Ross Russell.
Two more chances were wasted in the second half, while Canadian goalkeeper
Onstad, coming off a knee operation, was not tested once against a second-string
Ian Porterfield, the Scottish-born coach of T&T, left out all of his
players as Canada is expected to be its first opponent July 16 in the semifinal round of
World Cup - that's if it gets by Cuba in the two-leg first-round games.
After meeting Honduras in another exhibition game at Winnipeg Tuesday,
away to Cuba June 4 with the return in Winnipeg June 11.
``We had an obligation to play Canada since it travelled to Port of Spain
but there is no way I would have fielded our top players,'' Porterfield said.
``It gave me a chance to assess our younger players, of whom only two or
make the first team.
``It was a friendly game so there was no pressure on the Canadians who
good practice before meeting Cuba. If we do meet Canada in the next round, it will be
another scenario altogether.''
If it overcomes the initial hurdle, Canada will be up against the likes
United's Dwight Yorke, Russell Latapy of Hibernian and Nottingham Forest's Stern
Osieck can be pleased with the form of midfielder Nick Dasovic, who returned
being sidelined for six months, and defender Carl Fletcher, also injured prior to the
Olympic team defender Kevin McKenna, making his debut, was also a revelation.
Osieck's main concern, though, has to be team's lack of finish.
The strikers must convert half-chances if it harbours thoughts of making
the finals in
Japan and South Korea in 2002.