Less than 48 hours after Canada's disastrous exit from World Cup qualifying, head coach Stephen Hart tendered his resignation.The search for Canada's next head coach is on.
The Canadian Soccer Association announced Thursday that it had accepted the resignation of Stephen Hart, the man who has led Canada's men's national team since 2009.
“We would like to thank Stephen Hart for his contribution to the Canadian Soccer Association and Canada’s men's national team program,” CSA president Victor Montagliani said in a statement. “Mr. Hart has served as an exemplary model for the game at both the national and international levels.
"During his tenure with the association, he earned the respect of the Canadian soccer community and helped to raise the profile of the game in this country."
Hart had served as interim head coach in 2007, during which Canada reached the semifinal of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He was Dale Mitchell's assistant during the failed qualification run for South Africa 2010, and returned to the the top job after Mitchell stepped down in 2009.
He steered Canada through a roller coaster pair of Gold Cup tournaments in 2009 and 2011 before heading up the qualification campaign for Brazil 2014. Under Hart, Canada sailed through the second round of CONCACAF's qualifying competition before ultimately failing in the third stage.
Canada fared well enough to challenge for a spot in next year's final qualifying round until an horrific 8-1 loss at Honduras on Tuesday eliminated the Canadians and allowed the home side to move on.
Hart's squad finished just one point out of second place in Group C, which would have been enough for the team to advance to the Hexagonal qualification round for the first time in 16 years. He ends his run as coach with a record of 20-10-15 (W-D-L).
As for Hart's replacement, Montagliani told reporters in a conference call Wednesday that the CSA will commence a search for a new head coach immediately, and that a heightened importance will be placed on earning results away from home.
"One of the things we really have to look at is psychologically, how we compete with teams in Central America and the Caribbean," Montagliani said. "We're going to be in this position again, and we have to make sure that we're in a position to break through."