Jun 03, 2009
Canada is coming off its best performance in history at the Universiade in men's soccer with a fourth-place finish at the 2007 Games in Bangkok, Thailand. Prior to 2007, the Canadians had never advanced past group play in four previous appearances at the tournament.
"We showed the last time around we can be competitive at that level," said UBC head coach Mike Mosher, who will lead the national side in Belgrade after serving as an assistant under Montreal's Pat Raimondo two years ago. "We see the fourth-place finish from 2007 as a real positive, as motivation, not as extra pressure."
2009 Summer Universiade website: www.universiade-belgrade2009.org
Team Canada website: www.universitysport.ca/belgrade
The 2009 edition of Team Canada is comprised of 15 players from CIS schools and three from NCAA universities.
The team looks to be in good hands in goals with Montreal's Gerardo Argento and Western Ontario's Haidar Al-Shaibani set to protect the Canadian cage. Argento of Montreal is a four-time all-Canadian in as many varsity seasons, while Al-Shaibani of London, Ont., was a first-team all-Canadian in his fourth campaign at Western in 2007. Both have led their teams to a pair of CIS bronze medals.
The defensive unit is comprised of UBC teammates Jason Gill and Graham Smith, both of Abbotsford, B.C., Laval's Alexandre Lévesque-Tremblay of Baie-Saint-Paul, Que., Western's Paul Seymour of Ottawa and York's Jamaal Smith of Mississauga, Ont.
Gill and Graham Smith helped UBC capture the CIS banner in 2007 with Smith, a two-time all-Canadian, earning MVP honours at the national championship. The Thunderbirds also won the title in Smith's freshman season in 2005.
Lévesque-Tremblay earned all-Canadian nods the past two seasons. The CIS rookie of the year in 2006, Jamall Smith led York to its first CIS title since 1977 last fall, anchoring a Lions defence that did not allow a single goal at the national tourney.
"Any team that has success internationally must be strong and responsible defensively. My history playing for Canada and my experience at the last FISU Games tell me this had better be the case for our team to succeed," said Mosher, who suited up for Canada at the 1995 Universiade in Fukuoka, Japan, and represented the country at the Under-20 and U23 levels from 1987-1992.
"At the same time we need to be able to possess the ball and keep the ball to keep the pressure off our defenders, and I think we have a good mix of players in attacking positions whereby we can be creative with several threats in attack. We selected a number of these players based upon their speed and versatility so we can play different styles and formations depending on what is needed on that day."
Heading the group of midfielders is Francesco Bruno of Toronto, a first-team all-Canadian each of his first two CIS seasons, the reigning CIS player of the year, the OUA finalist for the 2009 BLG Award as CIS male athlete of the year, and a national champion with York last fall. Bruno represented Canada at the 2003 FIFA Under-20 world championship in the United Arab Emirates, where the team reached the quarterfinals.
Bruno will be accompanied at midfield by Montreal's Guillaume Couturier of Candiac, Que., College of Charleston's Branko Gavric of Kitchener, Ont., Buffalo's Alexander Marrello of Burnaby, B.C., Saskatchewan's Josh Northey of Saskatoon, and McGill's James Scholefield of Pointe-Claire, Que., an all-Canadian two of the past three campaigns.
Offensively, Team Canada can count on Carleton's Matthew D'Angelo of Ottawa, Alberta's John Konye of Edmonton, Saskatchewan's Jerson Barandica-Hamilton of Saskatoon, Victoria's Cole McFarlane of Calgary, and Winthrop's Daniel Revivo of Richmond Hill, Ont.
D'Angelo, who played four years at Saint Mary's before finishing his CIS eligibility at Carleton last season, and McFarlane are both two-time all-Canadians.
D'Angelo led all CIS players with 13 goals last fall, while Bruno was second in the nation with 10 markers. McFarlane and Barandica-Hamilton scored nine times apiece.
Revivo was named Big South Conference player of the year and a second-team all-American in 2008 when he netted 14 goals in 22 games. He has been named to 11 junior national teams over the course of his career.
Team Canada flies out of Montreal on June 21 and will hold a one-week training camp in Belgrade before kicking off the 16-team Universiade tournament with Group B contests against the Czech Republic on June 30, Morocco on July 2 and the Ukraine on July 4.
The quarterfinal round is set for July 6, the semi-finals for July 8, and the bronze and gold-medal games for July 10.
The Canadians are in tough in Group B as the Ukraine is reigning Universiade champion, while Morocco and the Czech Republic claimed bronze medals in 2005 and 2003, respectively.
"We don't have an easy draw. But then again I don't think anyone has an easy draw," said Mosher. "It's a difficult tourney, period. No opponents can be taken lightly."
"Fortunately, I have a terrific coaching staff with a ton of experience," added Mosher, who has led UBC to a pair of CIS crowns in the last four years. "We all have national or international games experience, so that should be a big help."
A two-time CIS coach of the year who led McGill to a CIS title in 1997 before moving on to Montreal, Raimondo is reunited with Mosher and will be making his third Universiade appearance after assuming head-coaching duties in 2007 and acting as an assistant in 2003 in Daegu, South Korea.
The other assistant coach, Allan Errington from Fraser Valley, is a former assistant with Canada's senior national team, including stints with the World Cup (1992-98) and Olympic (1992-98) squads.
Team leader Randy Bardock has been a CIS coach at Lethbridge for over 20 years and has been part of many provincial programs in Alberta.
TEAM CANADA ROSTER
|Goalkeeper||Haidar Al-Shaibani||Western||A||London, Ont.|
|Goalkeeper||Gerardo Argento||Montreal||4||Montreal, Que.|
|Defence||Alexandre Lévesque-Tremblay||Laval||4||Baie-Saint-Paul, Que.|
|Defence||Paul Seymour||Western||4||Ottawa, Ont.|
|Defence||Jason Gill||UBC||2||Abbotsford, B.C.|
|Defence||Jamaal Smith||York||3||Mississauga, Ont.|
|Defence||Graham Smith||UBC||4||Abbotsford, B.C.|
|Midfield||Guillaume Couturier||Montreal||3||Candiac, Que.|
|Midfield||Branko Gavric||Charleston #||3||Kitchener, Ont.|
|Midfield||Francesco Bruno||York||3||Toronto, Ont.|
|Midfield||Alexander Marrello||Buffalo||3||Burnaby, B.C.|
|Midfield||Josh Northey||Saskatchewan||2||Saskatoon, Sask.|
|Midfield||James Scholefield||McGill||5||Pointe-Claire, Que.|
|Mid. / Forw.||John Konye||Alberta||5||Edmonton, Alta.|
|Forward||Jerson Barandica Hamilton||Saskatchewan||2||Saskatoon, Sask.|
|Forward||Matthew D'Angelo||Carleton +||5||Ottawa, Ont.|
|Forward||Cole McFarlane||Victoria||4||Calgary, Alta.|
|Forward||Daniel Revivo||Winthrop||4||Richmond Hill, Ont.|
* Indicates year of eligibility used in 2008 CIS / NCAA season;
A - Al-Shaibani used his fourth year of eligibility in 2007. He did not play university soccer in 2008 but is eligible for the Universiade as he graduated from Western in the Spring of 2008;
# College of Charleston;
+ D'Angelo played four years at Saint Mary's before suiting up for Carleton in 2008.
Team leader: Randy Bardock, University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Alta.
Head coach: Mike Mosher, UBC, Vancouver, B.C.
Assistant coach: Allan Errington, University of the Fraser Valley, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Assistant coach: Pat Raimondo, University of Montreal, Pointe-Claire, Que.
Physiotherapist: David Fleming, Prince George, B.C.
CANADA'S SCHEDULE AND DRAW:
June 30 - Preliminary Group B: Canada vs. Czech Republic
July 2 - Preliminary Group B: Canada vs. Morocco
July 4 - Preliminary Group B: Canada vs. Ukraine
July 6 - Quarterfinals
July 8 - Semi-finals
July 10 - Bronze & Final
Group A: Serbia, Mexico, Great Britain, Ghana
Group B: Ukraine, Canada, Czech Republic, Morocco
Group C: Italy, Uruguay, Ireland, Korea
Group D: Thailand, Japan, France, Brazil
CANADA'S RESULTS IN MEN'S SOCCER AT PAST SUMMER UNIVERSIADE:
2007 (Bangkok, Thailand): 4th
2003 (Daegu, South Korea): 15th
1995 (Fukuoka, Japan): 15th
1993 (Buffalo, USA): 16th
1979 (Mexico City, Mexico): 12th
About the Summer Universiade
The Summer Universiade is an international multi-sport event that takes place every two years, and is second only to the Olympic Games in the number of participating athletes and countries. The Universiade is open to competitors between the ages of 17 and 28 in the year of the Games who are full-time students at a post-secondary institution (university, college, CEGEP) or have graduated from a post-secondary institution in the year preceding the event.
About Canadian Interuniversity Sport
Canadian Interuniversity Sport is the national governing body of university sport in Canada. Fifty-two universities, 10,000 student-athletes and 550 coaches vie for 21 national championships in 12 different sports. The CIS also provides high performance international opportunities for Canadian student-athletes at Winter and Summer Universiades, and 32 World University Championships. For further information, visit www.universitysport.ca.
Source: CIS Communications
Photo Credit: Michael P. Hall