Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Hart bites the bullet
Soccer coach resigns after shellacking
TORONTO -- In a corridor under the stands at the decrepit Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, a numb Stephen Hart refused to make excuses after watching Canada implode in a shocking 8-1 loss to Honduras.
His team was well-prepared. The heat was not a factor. His players were all professionals.
Reminded that he was not on the field during the debacle, Hart paused and said simply: "But it's my responsibility."
Hart, 52, lived up to that credo two days later by handing in his resignation as national men's soccer coach.
"He's a good football man. He's a good man, period," Victor Montagliani, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, said in a conference call announcing the news Thursday.
"This game is a beautiful game but at time it can be cruel," he added. "And I think we all know what needed to happen."
Hart's record as coach was 20-15-10 in various stints from 2006 to 2012, ranking him second in wins and first in win percentage among Canadian coaches.
The resignation will not be welcomed by the majority of Hart's players, who regarded their laidback coach with respect and affection.
"The disaster in Honduras had nothing to do with coaching or tactics," said veteran fullback Ante Jazic, who missed Tuesday's game through illness. "We were well prepared for that.
"Ultimately with that result, that scorelines, heads were going to roll. But we the players have to take full responsibility with that performance. We were well prepared, knew what they were going to do.
"So that comes down to us."
Hart worked his way through the CSA coaching ranks and had several stints as interim coach of the men's team before getting the job for good in December 2009.
At that time, the Halifax resident said qualifying for the World Cup was Job 1.
"I want to make it clear that it will be our objective to focus on the CONCACAF qualifications in 2012," Hart said upon getting the job.
Almost three years later, that journey came to a crashing, premature halt in San Pedro Sula. And Hart had no answers for why his players failed to answer the bell for Canada's biggest game in 15 years.
Canada needed just a tie or win in San Pedro Sula to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
Instead, Hart's team suffered the worst defeat by a Canadian men's side since an 8-0 shellacking in Mexico in 1993.
-- The Canadian Press
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 19, 2012 C8
(1 of 50 articles for this week)3:19 AM 0
BANGKOK - FIFA has warned the Football Association of Thailand that the country faces a ban from international competition unless ...