By Brian Lowe, Date: 6/9/17
Following their upset loss to Jamaica late last month, the Canadian Wolverines have retooled for their first home international of the season against Fiji.
Canada hosts a Fiji Bati residents side in Vancouver this Saturday. The match is a precursor to game 3 of the Americas Championship the following week in Toronto.
The Wolverines need to beat the USA in Toronto to have any chance of winning the Americas Championship series, but first things first.
Canada head coach Ben Fleming thinks a failure to adapt to change was one of the main causes of their defeat by Jamaica.
“We’re wiser for the experience, but it won’t change our beliefs at what we’ve started to do here in Canada,” he said.
“Regardless of the refereeing and being decimated through injury, I still thought we could have won with our individual experience, but it’s a team effort and we just didn’t have that team awareness and belief, especially in times of adversity.”
The coach says it has been a touch difficult to really drill down to where things went wrong against the Jamaicans because they haven’t had access to video of the game.
They had a player leadership meeting the day after the match and dissected what they needed to address. That has been filtered down to each province and will be addressed when the team comes together later in the week.
There are seven changes to the roster for the Fijian matchup resulting from injuries, availability and performance.
The Canadians are on a five-game skid. It started in August 2016 when they were defeated by an England Lionhearts team in Toronto, while later on the same day, their split squad lost to Fiji in Honolulu.
“I think losing any international game is a concern,” continued coach Fleming.
“It’s ultimately a results driven business, not to mention it helps when trying to sell our product and brand, however, I wasn’t at the helm for the previous four games so I can’t really comment on that.
“I’m not sure what was done in previous years, but through evaluation and discussion I believe we’ve turned a corner here and doing something special. Hopefully the work we’ve put in behind the scenes will translate to winning and success on the field.”
While it’s not panic stations for the coach or the squad, they are acutely aware of their recent results and how badly they need a W against the Fijians.
“As badly as all the other games, perhaps more so given it’s our first game in Vancouver and our first home game of the year,” said Fleming.
“We only have five internationals this year so every game is precious and an opportunity to mark ourselves as the best second tier nation.
“I believe we are. Having the opportunity to play Fiji and the USA in a World Cup year is an opportunity for us to assert that.”