Hart: Canada 'second best' in loss to Panama

Canada's 2-0 loss at Panama on Tuesday was due to a lack of energy, said the players and head coach Stephen Hart.
PANAMA CITY, Panama - On a night that started off with a power outage at the stadium, it seemed like Canada was the one that needed an energy boost.

Slow and lacking any sort of ideas going forward, the Canadians were beaten alarmingly easily on Tuesday night, falling 2-0 to host Panama in World Cup qualifying.

"I think that Panama from start to finish was better than us," Canadian captain Kevin McKenna said following the loss. "I don't think we were at the races today. It's a pity, but we still have everything to play for."

The result sees Canada slip from first to third in the hotly-contested Group C of CONCACAF's qualification tournament, and the Canadians will need to grab three points in their next game - a home match against group bottom-feeder Cuba on Oct. 12 - if they wish to have any realistic shot at advancing to the next round.

While Canada is still very much alive, coach Stephen Hart acknowledged that another performance like Tuesday's will put an end to that dream very quickly. He said he'll review the loss from a realistic perspective, without letting his players off the hook.

"No excuses," Hart said of his team's performance against the Panamanians. "We were second best to everything. We were second best to close the ball down, second best in the tackle. We didn't pass the ball well, keep possession well, and they scored the goal and put us under pressure.

"And I thought our heads dropped way too easily because one goal was scored on us [in the first half]."

While it was easy to identify the problem with Canada's performance on Tuesday, what no one could figure out was why the team appeared so lethargic in a game that meant so much to its chances of moving on.


A win or even a draw with Panama would have given the Canadians some much-needed breathing room atop the group, but instead they will be the ones chasing the pack over the final two match days.

The players themselves were incredulous after the match.

"There's no real reason why, but it should have never been like this from the get-go," said midfielder Patrice Bernier. "You can understand during the game to lose momentum or get tired, but I think in a game like this we should have been ready from the get-go and gave them a little bit more of a battle."