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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old September 18th, 2003, 03:01 Thread Starter
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Life after Osieck

Canadian Press story Sept. 4:

Midfielder Marc Bircham, who retired from international soccer after a falling out with coach Holger Osieck, says he is ready to play for Canada again in the wake of Osieck's departure.

Apparently the Canadian Soccer Association wasted little time welcoming the English-born player back to the fold. Bircham says he was contacted Monday, the day before the CSA officially confirmed a CP report that the coach had stepped down.

Bircham burst on the Canadian soccer scene in 1999, brought into the Canadian camp after officials learned he qualified to play for Canada because his grandfather was born in Winnipeg.

Bircham played 13 times for Canada, making a dream debut in 1999 in the 1-1 draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast that was Osieck's game first at the helm.

He scored for Canada in that game - before ever setting foot in the country.

The Queens Park Rangers player turned his back on Canada after a disastrous trip to Japan for the Confederations Cup in 2001. Osieck never played him in three games, a slight that rankled all the more because Bircham had brought his father over to Japan.

"I was away for three weeks and I hated it," he said after the trip, before turning his sights on Osieck. "He treated us like kids."

Osieck said Bircham hadn't shown in training he deserved to play. But it was clear the hard-nosed German and fun-loving Londoner did not see eye to eye on or off the pitch.

Two years and 18 internationals later, with Osieck gone, Bircham says he would love to play for Canada if it fits in with his club commitments.

"I said I'd be more than delighted to come back, if it didn't affect my games playing for QPR, because that's my priority for the minute," Bircham said Wednesday from London. "It's a big year for us. It's the last year of my contract and we've got to go up to Division One. But if I didn't miss any games, I'll be more than happy to come back."

That could be a problem. Canada only has one game scheduled, an Oct. 11 friendly in Finland that clashes with QPR's game against Brentford.

There is no schedule yet for Canada's World Cup qualifying campaign, which is expected to start early next year. But while top leagues in Europe close down for business at certain times, to facilitate international fixtures, it's business as usual at the lower leagues, such as the one where Bircham toils.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old September 18th, 2003, 03:02 Thread Starter
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The players wanted Osieck to go

(Neil Davidson - Canadian press)

After its woeful loss to Cuba at the 2003 Gold Cup in June, the Canadian men's soccer team held a players-only meeting at its hotel in suburban Boston and concluded coach Holger Osieck was not the man to lead Canada to the World Cup finals.

It wasn't a player revolt, but in the words of one player there it may have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

"Something had to be said," said a player who was at the meeting.

Seven weeks later, Osieck was gone.

Canadian Soccer Association president Andy Sharpe says there was no ultimatum from the players over Osieck. Personal reasons were the association's official party line.

But it seems clear that the coach had lost many of his players. Just as Osieck had lost others in the Canadian Soccer Association -- from people high in the boardroom who had moved on, to others in the organization who had turned away from the national team.

And the players concluded that something had to be done to turn the national team program around, to stop the rot. With World Cup qualifying just around the corner, action was needed quickly.

"That was the bottom line," a player said of the meeting. "What do we need to get to the World Cup finals?"

Plus some players knew Germany 2006 will be their last attempt to qualify for the World Cup finals.

The players' meeting, which covered more than Osieck, was described as animated. And not everyone was on the same page with regards to the coach -- two players voiced their concern at where the gathering was going. But the gist of the meeting was that many players did not believe Osieck could take them to the promised land.

Details of the meeting were obtained from two players, who talked about it on a background-only basis. Other details were confirmed by someone close to the program, with good ties to players.

"The majority (view) was they didn't feel he was the coach that we needed to progress to the World Cup," said one player. "It wasn't the feel that we couldn't play for him or we couldn't ever perform for him. The feel was that we need a change and that we needed some fresh blood and some new ideas. Because we felt we were just spinning our wheels, since probably 2000."

It was also clear that the team had been living on the 2000 Gold Cup triumph for too long.

"You can't do that. That's over and it's now 2003 and we've gone backwards," said one player.

The players also concluded that the team on the pitch at the Gold Cup simply wasn't good enough to get the business done. Canada needed the services of players like Mark Watson and Marc Bircham, who had quit the program, veteran Paul Peschisolido and Jim Brennan, who elected to stay with his new club rather than join the national team for the Gold Cup.

Plus players like Ante Jazic and Fernando Aguiar never seemed to be called up by Osieck.
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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old September 19th, 2003, 01:34 Thread Starter
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Peschisolido, Jazic back in soccer national team picture
Canadian Press Sep. 18, 2003

Two more players on the outs with Holger Osieck while he was coach of Canada are back in the national team picture.

Striker Paul Peschisolido and winger Ante Jazic say they are ready and willing to play for Canada again. Interim coach Colin Miller has asked both to play against Finland in an Oct. 11 friendly in Tampere while the search for a replacement for Osieck continues.

Other players have already returned to the Canadian fold since Osieck's resignation earlier this month.

Midfielder Marc Bircham has said he will end his retirement from international play if the games don't conflict with his club duties at Queens Park Rangers. Veteran defender Mark Watson, who retired with 68 caps, also says he is available if wanted.

Peschisolido has 45 caps for Canada but has not played for the national team since the November 2001 friendly against Malta that was also Watson's swan song. Canada has played 13 matches since then.

"It's fair to say I didn't see eye to eye with the German coach (Osieck) and I thought my time would be better served here rather than travelling across the world to play for him," Peschisolido told Sheffield United website. "I love playing for my country, everyone should. I got a phone call to ask if I wanted to play again and I'm happy to be back in the team. I know Colin, we played together for Canada, and I would love to add to my number of caps."

Peschisolido, 32, has become something of a super-sub at Sheffield United of late. He scored two goals against Rotherham this week and would add to a Canadian squad whose first-choice strike force of Tomasz Radzinski (Everton) and Dwayne De Rosario (San Jose Earthquakes) has only played together twice because of injury, club commitments or other reasons.

At the Gold Cup this summer, Osieck was forced to look to Kevin McKenna and Paul Stalteri for offence, two players who have more defensive responsibilities at their clubs.

Jazic, 27, only has two Canadian caps and one of those was before Osieck was hired. So he played in just one of the 46 matches Osieck presided over as Canadian coach and that was in 1999.

Injuries were a problem at times — he was picked for the Germany game in June but was restricted to the bench because of a pelvic injury. But even when healthy, the Halifax midfielder seemed off Osieck's radar.

"I think this is the perfect time to start, especially now with the new coaches coming," the Rapid Vienna player told the Halifax News. "Everyone starts off with pretty much a clean slate, and I'd like to be part of the new rebuilding program.

"It's time to get the ball rolling."
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