Thursday, June 12, 2008

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid?

Let's hope there are stout hearts in those young Colorado Rapids players and that they don't get so afraid at BMO Field come Saturday evening. Those crazy Canadian fans, the difficult surface, questionable refereeing decisions. All these will no doubt come into play on Saturday against Toronto and the inexperienced players could be the ones tested the most. And there will be some based on a few conversations this morning at training. In a squad hobbled by injuries, suspension and national call-ups, there are a total of nine players missing. The Rapids' website still shows three at the back with Rafael Gomes just in front but you might see four at the back and these could include rookie, Cesar Zambrano, with the likes of Stephen Keel, Jordan Harvey and a fit again Kosuke Kimura. Jose Burciaga still looks unfit to play for now. The midfield may be familiar but there is a doubt that Conor Casey is fit to start so Omar Cummings or Herculez Gomez could get the nod up front. Whatever happens, it will be a major challenge for many of the players and they will have to show sufficient heart to deal with it. Coach Fernando Clavijo says the only way for the youngsters to build consistency and gain confidence is to play in such games. "There is no better environment in which to play football," he said.
Regarding the Ugo Ihemelu situation, FIFA is looking into it, according to the Rapids. It is one of the reasons why Canada is traveling with19 players, one more than is necessary, because they are unsure about Ihemelu's eligibility. He has Canadian citizenship (as well as US and Nigerian) but has already played one match for the US, apparently not in a full international however. It was odd to see his face staring down at me from one of those banners at DSG Park this morning with the word Nigeria written underneath.

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