Jazic: Fan distractions will not shake Canada's focus

Panama fans are expected to try everything to throw Canada off its game ahead of Tuesday's World Cup qualifying rematch, including holding an all-night party at the Canadian hotel
PANAMA CITY, Panama - Hearing rumours that local fans are planning an all-out street party outside the Canadian hotel the night before Tuesday's World Cup qualifier between Panama and Canada, Stephen Hart was not at all surprised.

"It's normal in Latin America," Canada's head coach told reporters after his team stepped off the bus in Panama City on Sunday night. "You just have to live with it."

Hart said his squad will be prepared to deal with any potential ruckus, but how they do so could vary from player to player.

"You put on your headphones, listen to your music or whatever," the coach said, adding that others will choose to wear earplugs to block out the expected noise.

The Canadians headed to the Central American nation after winning 1-0 over the same team on Friday night in Toronto, a result that has brought much consternation in the Panamanian media.

Focus is squarely on getting revenge for the loss, one which took Panama and its supporters by surprise after the Red Tide had taken six points from the opening two matches in the current round of qualification, including a massive 2-0 victory at Honduras.

Canuck midfielder Patrice Bernier, who featured for the final 19 minutes in Friday's game, took to social media about a confrontation with a Panama fan mere moments after Canada had arrived at the airport, in which the fan equated Tuesday's match at the already sold out Estadiop Rommel Fernandez with war.

"Warm welcome by the locals," Bernier posted to his Twitter account.

Despite the prospect of off-field distractions and an even more hostile crowd than normal on match day, the Canadian players say they are focused on the task at hand.


"We know it's going to be a full stadium, obviously they want revenge for Friday night but we're a confident group," said left back Ante Jazic, who has been part of a back line that has kept a perfect defensive record in Group C thus far.

"It's nothing new, we have an experienced group so we're just focused on Tuesday," he said. "Whatever happens off the field, we can't control that, but we'll be ready [for the match]."