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Canada to take its time hiring new soccer coach

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TORONTO -- Canada will name an interim men's coach to handle January soccer friendlies with Denmark and the U.S., according to the president of the Canadian Soccer Association.

The games are the first for Canada since it crashed out of World Cup qualifying in an 8-1 defeat in Honduras in October. Stephen Hart, despite support from his players, resigned days later as coach.

The search for his replacement is ongoing.

The Canadian men, currently ranked 60th in the world, are slated to play No. 22 Denmark in Tucson on Jan. 26 before facing the 27th-ranked Americans three days later in Houston.

With European-based players still in season, the Canadian squad will likely draw on MLS players and younger talent.

"We will not have a coach in place for the Jan. 26 game so we're looking to deal with that internally," Canadian association president Victor Montagliani said prior to Monday's announcement of the U.S. friendly.

"Our first priority is to get the right person and secondly we have a soft date of getting one before the Gold Cup (the CONCACAF championship, scheduled for July in the U.S.)

"By the same token if it's not the right person and we need to wait a little bit longer, that's fine."

That would also cover a scenario where the right candidate isn't available until later in the year.

"If it's the right person and we know it, great. Obviously we'd like to get one in as soon as we can. But I think the key component has got to be the person that we think will push the program forward to the next level so we're ready for 2016 when we do battle again."

That's when the next round of World Cup qualifying starts.

At its recent board meeting, the Canadian Soccer Association established some timelines for filling the job, starting with creating a short list in the new year.

With six top CONCACAF teams involved in the hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying in the region, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, the 2013 Gold Cup will take somewhat of a backseat.

But the 2015 edition of the CONCACAF championship has extra significance because the winner will advance to the Confederations Cup. It may also mean a trip to an expanded Copa America in 2016.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 18, 2012 C5

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