Canada’s work isn’t done yet for Piette

MONTREAL – Since the start of the season in neutral due to an ankle injury, Samuel Piette was able to experience Canada’s qualification for the 2022 World Cup up close, confirmed last Sunday in Toronto.

He had been capped 61 times since his first call-up to the national team ten years ago, and had been invited by Canada Soccer to attend the decisive game against Jamaica in the stands at BMO Field. Joined by his teammates David Wotherspoon and Steven Vitoria, also injured, the Quebecer sat in the front row to witness the official return of the Canadian program to the world elite.

“Ten minutes before the end of the game, they called us to the bench to make sure we could live these last moments with the team. Running on the field at the final whistle was special,” Piette said on Wednesday after training at CF Montreal.

“At 2-0, 3-0, we all knew we would qualify. But at the final whistle, the emotions surfaced. I won’t lie, I shed a few tears with my teammates. It was a dream come true. I’m really happy that I experienced these moments with the team, even though I couldn’t play. Now we will have to come back to Earth, because there is still a lot of work to do. †

The Canadian team, which secured its place in Qatar in November, still has a few issues to resolve before it begins its final World Cup preparations. In action in Panama on Wednesday night, the Reds could need a win to knock themselves out of the way of the United States and secure first place in the final CONCACAF qualifying stage. A good result would also increase their chances of improving their lot for the draw that will determine the composition of the groups for the World Cup.

Hence the importance of leaving the euphoria of the past few days behind us and focusing for the last time on the task at hand.

“Personally, I expect in certain rotations players who have played less in the last window than since the start of the competition, Piette begins. On the one hand, these players will be motivated to show the coach that they have their place in this team, be it for the upcoming competitions or for the World Cup in November. Then we all know [l’entraîneur] Jan Herderman. He is a great motivator, someone who can enjoy the moment but also quickly turn the page to prepare his troops. He always wants to go a little higher and a little further. Victory is the only option tonight to finish in third hat for the draw. The staff is very aware of that. †

“In my opinion, we are really not going to see a team in the aftermath tonight, but a team that is hungry to win this game and only finish in first place.”

Only then does the heavy work begin for Piette. Looking at the reactions to the national team’s great performance this weekend, you would think that the ultimate goal has been achieved and that anything positive that follows will be seen as an unexpected reward. But within the group, no one is interested in wearing the negligee costume.

“I know this is a historic moment for most of the people who follow us from the outside. Yes, it is great what we have done and of course we are very happy and proud of this qualification internally. On the other hand, we know that this is just the beginning, says Piette. We still have a lot to prove and we want to show not just to the country but to the entire football world that Canada is a power and able to compete in this sport against the greatest nations of this world. We are ready to go to the World Cup and compete against the big teams, to compare ourselves with these big countries. With the quality we have, we have nothing to envy other countries. †

A place to regain

Piette was injured on January 28 in a game against Honduras. For the 27-year-old from Repentigny, it will be essential to get back into shape quickly to consolidate his place among the elected officials who will represent Maple Leaf in Qatar.

“My foot is doing much better,” he added as an update. It’s an injury that’s a bit odd, a mixture of several things. It is not just one thing that needs to be healed, but several things at once. That’s kind of the complexity of the thing. But I’m getting better. I started running last week and a bit more intense this week, with changes of direction and stuff. All this apart from the group of course, but we are not making a comeback any time soon. We also don’t want to cut spending. We want to make sure there is no relapse. †

The number 6 of CF Montreal will not only have to regain his position in the national team. In his absence, young Ismaël Koné took the opportunity to increase his status within the club. Some even started talking about him as an undisputed starter after his collection of goal and assist in Atlanta before the international break.

“What he’s doing now is really impressive,” the veteran agreed. I’m just happy for him, happy to see another club player and another Quebecer perform the way he does. Of course my injury means I have no control over my status or my place in the team. At the moment I don’t have space on the field. †

“After that, Isma and I are two completely different players, like I am with Victor Wanyama or Djordje [Mihailovic]† We all have different profiles and qualities that complement each other with the many tools that Wilfried has at his disposal. [Nancy]† †

Piette said he was “not close” to a return to action and then gave the only guarantee that he will not be on the field on Saturday when CF Montreal visit Cincinnati.

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