Match Day 1
The Final 23 that represented Canada in Austria in 2017.
Andrew Prout (Captain)
Felix Mauricio Monroy-Cuadros
Paul Dhillon - Manager/Player
Kyle Sue - Asst. Manager/Player
Opening Ceremony - The 49th Parallel Challenge Canada 3 (Jiminez 27', McQuillan 33', 37') USA 0
With the opening draw for the group stages only 12 hours away Team Canada took to the pitch in an overcast Leogang, Austria for their first international friendly match vs. Medical Team USA. Jet lag aside, the teams began the day with a warm up and then entered into a 40 minute friendly match with 20 minute halves. Both teams were not at full strength with many players arriving later in the day for the opening ceremonies.
The referee was questionable, as were many of his calls, but even with the cool and overcast weather neither team was able to break the deadlock by the end of the first half with only a few attempts at either end of the mountain ringed pitch that tested the keepers.
It was newcomer to the team and Developmental Pediatrician, Dr. Edgar Jiminez, that opened the scoring with a svelte right footed spot kick from 23 yards out into the right corner to score the opening, and winning goal of the match (27').
There was fierce competition in the midfield with Dr. Sean Gregg playing a stellar game and providing a number of excellent passes forward and holding the ball well in the Canadian formation. "It's just soccer, it's not a pancreaticoduodenectomy," he was heard to mention when discussing the ease at which he playing after travelling from his home base in Red Deer, AB. Both Andrew Prout (Captain) and Tarek Kazem (Toronto, ON) had a number of chances that either came close or challenged the USA keeper.
With the game tilting in favour of the Canadian side the American team pushed forward with some young recruits to the team but on the counterattack new Irish-Canadian import, Dr. Rory McQuillan (Toronto, ON) served up a brace of goals from close range (33', 37')
Dr. Gautam Nayak was the key organizer from the US team and held up the defence on Right back for the Americans and newcomer Milad Modabber and veteran Noel Grisdale squared up the Canadian defence. Dr. Roman Tulis and Dr. Scott Samis shared the clean sheet for the international friendly.
Canada 4 (Kazem 20', Balachandran 46', Kwapisz 64'(PK), Kwapisz 70'
Vs South Korea 1
Yellow Cards Naug, Naug (Double Yellow - RED) Gregg, Kazem
Today's match was a must win game to allow South Korea and Canada a chance to enter into the championship round of the tournament and to finish in the top 8 this year. The team suffered the loss of Dr. Rory McQuillan to return home to Ireland for a family emergency but he did donate his liquid yeast based carbohydrates to the squad before leaving. The team eagerly awaits his return and scoring touch.
Roman Tulis started in net and was not tested much in the first half with a new back four formation with Noel Grisdale as the central pillar in defence and the left and right back covered by the Shillington brothers who did an exceptional job keeping the wings clear but the main thrust of the South Korean attack was down the centre with numerous long balls and hopes for a skip and lucky bounce on the wet turf.
Captain Andrew Prout came close on an indirect spot kick with Lukasz Kwapiz aiming for the assist but the aim was just off. It was a brilliant near post header from Tarek Kazem's perfectly coiffed hair that opened the game up in the 20' minute with delivery of the ball by general surgeon Sean Gregg from Red Deer, AB. Aran Balachandran then doubled the score with another scrappy close in finish to lift the team spirits and take them into the break at the half.
Spirits were high but then dampened when the sky opened up and lashed rain during the half time. There was a possibility of a delay but the clouds passed and the game resumed and turned into a stormy 2nd half on the pitch.
An early second half penalty was given to the South Korean side and they converted giving them a bit more kimchi in their kick. They struggled with substitutions with a squad of only 15 people but they played hard throughout the match with simple close in passing and then a long ball to a lone tall striker. Roman Tulis missed the penalty but a stellar far post diving save off a South Korean spot kick and then again deflected a number of crosses and shots as the South Korean's pressed for a tying goal.
Dr. Romith Naug was then oddly penalized for a second foul that resulted in his second yellow card and he was sent off for the remainder of the match and will miss the next match vs. Ukraine. The team shifted to a 4-4-1 formation after Romith was sent off and continued to press. Sean Gregg was given a harsh and questionable yellow for diving deep in the South Korean side but ultimately it was a Sean Gregg pass that was perfectly placed for Lukasz to finish but the South Korean keeper and last man took him out. He coolly finished the penalty kick for his first goal of the tournament.
The second half was a passionate affair with Andy Shillington using his outdoor voice at times to encourage the South Korean team to stay on their feet. Edgar Jiminez was more lively in this match as he apparently remembered that he was of latin decent and played with increased power and passion.
The South Koreans continued to press and never gave up but on a counterattack Lukasz made a stunning individual display of speed and poise and slotted another goal past the South Koreans putting the game out of reach. There were a number of hard tackles that needed to be made and Matt Frey was seen early on in the Left back position to be making those difficult and hard tackles. Needless to say there will be South Koreans with bruises tomorrow more reminiscent of a North Korean work camp. Tarek Kazem was also warned with a yellow for a hard tackle but just outside the penalty area.
Sweden 7 vs. Canada 1 (Balachandran 5')
It was a difficult match for Canada on Day 1 of the 2017 WMFC playing prior runners up and perennial favourites, Sweden.
The match was Captained by Andrew Prout in hot and humid weather but with stunning mountain surroundings at the Sonnerain pitch in Leogang. Field conditions were generally excellent with only a single boggy area of play. Roman Tulis started in net and made a number of saves during the game but the quality of some shots from the fit and practiced Swedish side was too much at times.
Canada started off very strong with possession and an initial long range shot from Edgar Jiminez from 30 yards at 3' came close but was rising and went over the bar. A cross and 6 yard box melee allowed Dr. Aran Balachandran to slot home at close range with his first ever goal for Canada. He was assisted by Dr. Lukasz Kwapisz who returned to play throughout the match with blistering pace and close control after limited play in 2016 when he was restricted by injury.
As play continued in the first half and a slippery field caused a minor stumble by Milad Modabber, who had presented his ocular trauma brilliantly earlier in the day, the Swedish team were able to break forward on a long ball counterattack with speed. Milad valiantly attempted to catch up with the speedy Swede who calmly slotted home in the right corner under a sprawling Roman Tulis.
The Swedish team continued to press and before half time had raised the score to 4:1 in their favour with some blistering long range strikes and with their superior height advantage.
The second half saw Canada continue to pressure when possible but the team adopted a more defensive posture with injured player Dr. Shervin Zandi stepping in as coach. A few minor injuries to Dr. Chip Doig and Dr. Ali Ibrahaim also hampered the response which lead to the final score of 7:1 in Sweden's favour. The dual brother pairs of Andrew and John Shillington and Darrell and Trevor Lewis also played solid football on the flanks and next to veteran defender Noel Grisdale who marshalled the defence through the Swedish onslaught.
In the end it was a difficult loss and the Canadian team can take solace in the fact that although Sweden did beat us today they also make our lives easier as physicians with their invention of pacemakers.
Match Day 2
Match Day 3
Canada 1 (Kwapisz) Ukraine 2 (Tulis 51' OG)
Canada was left at under full strength with the loss of Rory McQuillan and Romith Naug in a must win match against the Ukraine. A win would have put the team through to the championship round in the top 8 achieved goal to be in the top half of all teams early in the tournament.
Team Canada put out a strong starting 11 with Roman Tulis in net and Andrew Prout captaining again from Centre midfield. Early in the game in the 5' minute Sean Gregg and Lukasz made a solid combination attempt to test out the massive Russian keeper. Matt Frey who warned the team before joining this year that he wasn't afraid of an occasional slide tackle provided massive tackles early in the game on his wing back position. John Shillington had to leave the game early with a groin injury and Eddie Jiminez was tackled hard with an early yellow card given to the Ukrainian team (7') for the foul.
Captain Prout took a free kick from 40 yards out in the 13th minutes and missed the far post on a good attempt as Canada pressed for an early goal and to assert themselves in the match. Roman Tulis was tested in net with a low show at 16' and made the diving save with a very wet pitch just at the top of his 18 yard box.
Then in the 21st minute the Ukrainian team opened up the scoring after some miscomunication in the back line left Tarek Kazem defending a 2 v 1 situation. The remainder of the first half was a back and forth affair with some attempts on the Canadian net that were handled by the Canadian keeper without any concerns.
The weather held and other than the field being sub-optimal in places conditions were hot but excellent for the match. Canada came out strong in the second half knowing that the game was in reach and knowing we needed the win to advance.
An odd goal mouth scramble 8 yards out from net with Noel Grisdale and Roman Tulis ended with a parry of the ball by Roman Tulis (51' OG)which instead of going over the net for a corner kick ended up in the net even with a desperate header attempt out of the net by Matt Frey. The Ukrainian bench erupted knowing they were through with that result.
Quiet without much of the ball in the first half Lukasz Kawpisz then made an incredibly sublime move on the Left wing and placed the ball up and over the stretching Ukrainian keeper into the right corner bringing Canada right back into the match with our goal of the tournament thus far.
Canada continued to try and push for a final tying goal but was unable to maintain possession into the final third of the Ukrainian pitch with any real pressure onto the Ukrainian keeper and the result stood at 2-1.
With this result Canada is in the middle group and will now play the Russian Red Army and Mexico or Austria over the next 2 days to delineate final positions in the tournament with a final match on Saturday against possibly Argentina or Germany.
Match Day 4
Russia 3 vs. Canada 0 #13thJuly #WMFC2017
Canada suffered their first loss without a single goal in this years tournament against Russia today, the 13th of July. Against a team that was beatable and without doping controls in place one cannot be sure if the win was clean. Early in the game in the 2' minute Lukasz Kwapsiz nutmeged a Russian and with Captain Andrew Prout had an early shot to test the Russian keeper. Prout and Kwapsiz continued the early assault on the Russian defense with Dr. Kwapiz making a strong left footed attempt and Andrew making a shot that just passed by the left post early on with the Canadian team providing consistent pressure on the Russians.
The 4th game of the tournament, with 2 more matches to play, the Canadian team was struggling with the mental and physical demands of the tournament and #41 from the Russian team placed a strong attempt on the Canadian goalie, Scott Samis (Calgary, AB) who handled the shot well and continued to protect the net in the first half to the 0-0 conclusion. Aran Balachandran and John Shillington were substituted then at 13' with defensive stalwart Matthew Frey put onto the pitch. Scott Samis continued to impress in net with a diving save to his right at 18' and Milad Modabber played a solid right back with multiple tackles in the 23'. Dr. Samis was tested again in the 25' with a great save and then the Canadians tried to turn the tide.
Dr. Kwapisz pressured on a solid run up the middle with a side by side run vs. the Russian defense and then even with injury to his hamstring tried to get a shot off against the oncoming Russian keeper but he wasn't able to slot past him to put the Canadians in the lead. After the valiant attempt he was pulled off with an injury that might not see him back on the pitch for the rest of the tournament leaving the Canadian team without their most potent pure striker again for a second year. Shortly after the Canadian team continued to pressure prior to the half time with a corner kick at 34' from Eddie Jiminez but they were unable to convert. Dr. Jiminez provided a number of consistent crosses throughout the game and even with a number of goal mouth scrambles the team was not able to put a goal past the Russians.
Coach, and injured player, Dr. Shervin Zandi, changed the formation to a 4-4-2 in the second half and Matthew Frey had a diving header in the 42' that came close to starting the Canadians on a winning path. Eddie Jimenez continued with some excellent crosses but the team was not able to convert. Dr. Paul Dhillon was substituted in for a short period and was unable to provide more than a passing effort into the middle of the 18 yard box after beating the Russian defence down the right wing and the cross was cleaned up by the keeper.
In the 45' minute the Russians broke the deadlock with a muddle clearance attempt after a corner kick and the Canadian team then was reduced to chasing the game with 35 minutes left to play. The Canadian team attacked the Russian half as well as they could but the mental and physical effect of 4 matches in 5 days was starting to show with small mistakes. However, in the 65' Eddie Jiminez burst down the left flank again and after beating the Russian defense he was able to cross into Romith Naug who was able to parry a shot onto the net with his left foot but unable to keep it down and it flew over the net for a goal kick for the best chance to equalize. The injuries to Tarek Kazem and Lukasz Kwapisz were felt on the pitch with the resultant lack of clinical finish and pressure on the Russian defence. In the 67' minute with a free kick awarded at 34 yard Andrew Prout placed a wonderful kick into the top left corner but the keeper was able to move across and save the tying goal. Shortly after Eddie Jiminez place a shot as well but it was not enough to beat the keeper.
Coach Shervin then shifted to a more aggressive posture for the final 8 minutes but even with that the Canadian team left themselves exposed for a counterattack and the Russians move the goalposts to far with the 2-0 scoreline and only minutes and seconds left to play. Andrew Shillington played exceptionally in his defensive position throughout the match with Ali Ibrahaim and Milad Modabber filling in defensive and wing roles but the end was in sight. Late in the game, when time was to be called the Russians were given another free kick and they curled it over the 3 man wall into the bottom left corner of the net closing off any opportunity the Canadian team had to even the score and go to penalties. Dr. Sean Gregg was man of the match even after dropping a Russian like a hemoglobin in a massive GI bleed. Noel Grisdale was a stalwart in defence once again with the Darrell Lewis and Trevor Lewis brothers playing injured but exceptionally well throughout the match.
Tomorrow the Canadian team will play the Mexican team for 1st place in CONCACAF.
Mexico 11 v Canada 10 (Kazem 7', Prout 22')
As the group stages ended the knockout stages of the tournament could not end in a draw and would end up going to penalty shots against the Mexican team after a cagey affair ended in a 2-2 draw after 80 minutes.
Sean Gregg was deemed ineligible to play as he was on his second yellow and the loss of his passing and playmaking in the Centre of the pitch was noted.
Canada started strongly once again with Romith Naug making a strong move down the wing and putting in an early cross. Tarek Kazem and Romith continued to connect and a pass from Romith down the left wing released Tarek and he killed the ball with a low shot under the diving Mexican keeper in the 7th minute.
Mexico quickly responded and the score was leveled in the 9th minute off a Mexican cross.
Tarek continued to attack and a curling effort in the 12th minute was not enough to break the new deadlock. Mauricio came close on two attempts but just wasn't able to slot home at close range. Eddie Jiminez played with passion against his Latin brethren and provided a consistency in crosses and place kicks that the team lacked in 2016. However, the Mexicans took the lead for the first time in the match with a low shot into the bottom left of a diving Canadian keeper. Andrew Prout then put Canada back in the game tying it with a curling left footed effort after a Mexican foul.
In the 43rd minute stating keeper Scott Samis made a stunning save to keep Canada in the game as the vocal Mexican team pressed forward in a much more open game than the previous ones. Shortly after Scott's save the team lost Darrell Lewis to injury and the rest of the tournament.
Milad placed a great cross into the Mexican box but again Mauricio was unable to finish. Canada pressed and Andrew placed a number of crosses one which fell to Rory Mcquillan and then fell to Romith but luck was not on our side today.
Paul Dhillon was substituted in as a striker and was released down the left wing in the 75th minute with Tarek injured but sprinting down the middle. An un-decisive shot-cross looked like it might be floating over the keeper for the win but in the end it floated down into the keepers arms at the 6 yard box.
Roman Tulis was substituted in at 78 minutes as the teams penalty specialist.
Penalties were taken in the following order.
1.Tarek Kazem 0
2. Andrew Prout 1
3. Eddie Jiminez 1
4. Romith Naug 0
5. Noel Grisdale 1
With the score tied still after 5 shooters each it proceeded to sudden death single shooters.
6. Aran Balachandran 1
7. Roman Tulis 1
8. Matt Frey 1
9. Milad Modabber 0
With the score still tied and Mexico one up Milad had the pressure filled last shot but a diving save sealed the win for Mexico and top CONCACAF place this year.
The final match for Canada against Argentina was a dream finale for the team in order to come 15th place in the tournament this year just shy of the inaugural 14th place finish in 2016.
Mother nature had other things in mind and all matches on the final game day were canceled due to water laden pitches other than the final and 3rd place match. All other matches were decided on penalty kicks. The masters pitches were a literal mud bath with barely a hint of grass in the middle of the pitch.
National anthems were sung with pride but the Canadian team will need pitch and choral lessons in the off season.
Canada lined up with our first 5 penalty takers on a slightly dryer corner of the pitch just after the original start time of 9am on Saturday morning. Dr. Scott Samis was the keeper vs Argentina and it was his save on the 6th shot that won the match for Canada.
Penalties were taken by Noel Grisdale, Andrew Prout, Sean Gregg, Paul Dhillon and Ali Ibrahim for the first 5 shots and all were good. The Argentina shots were also all good. Finally it was Lukasz Kwapisz who put in the final Canadian goal and then Scott had the save off an Argentina shot that came low and hard up the middle.
The team cleaned up and enjoyed the closing ceremonies before heading home after a great tournament and great efforts that will build the team as they head to the Czech Republic in 2018 and to Mexico in 2019.
Team Canada MVP - Noel Grisdale
Top Scorer - Lukasz Kwapisz
Research Award - Milad Modabber