Teams: Toronto FC, Fiorentina, Barça
Holger Osieck - remember him?
We lack soccer know-how: Osieck
Jun. 30, 2006
Neil Davidson, Canadian Press
BERLIN—Former coach Holger Osieck doesn't follow Canadian soccer much any more, but he still believes Canadian players have much to learn before they join the big boys at the World Cup.
Osieck, now head of FIFA's technical department, left the Canadian job in September 2003 after a poor Gold Cup campaign that saw Canada lose 2-0 to Cuba and fail to survive the first round.
The German native officially resigned, but it's believed his departure followed a meeting with senior Canadian Soccer Association officials where players complained about Osieck's hard-nosed, my-way-or-the-highway approach to coaching.
"I don't feel bitter about it," Osieck said yesterday. "I've got my style. I have my philosophy and I always had my clear vision of what to do. And I can assure you I know what's required to make a team.
"And of course, if you want to step up even as a player, in a way you have to sacrifice. And if you want to just take the easy way, you never get anywhere. I tried to convey the message but some obviously didn't like it. So what can you do?''
Osieck took over the Canadian team in September 1998, inheriting a side ranked 88th in the world. He helped lift the team to a high of No. 55 in 2000 when Canada won the Gold Cup and earned a berth in the Confederations Cup.
Osieck, an assistant coach to Franz Beckenbauer when Germany won the World Cup in 1990, had a 20-17-9 record with Canada. The team was ranked 79th when he left. Canada is currently ranked 83rd.
Asked if he thinks Canada will make it to the World Cup in the near future, Osieck was blunt.
"First of all, people have to know what it takes to get there. I tried to convey the message what is required," he said. "But I think what is more important is the know-how. You've got to know what it takes."
Osieck also doesn't believe that an MLS franchise in Toronto will be a cure-all to Canadian soccer's ills.
"Well it remains to be seen," he said. "Knowing the system, everything is based on success. And if that team doesn't do well, people won't show up. And you cannot consider this team a development team for Canadian talent. That's definitely an illusion. If people go that road, I think they go in the wrong direction."
That's because Osieck believes the Canadian MLS team will need some big names. He feels Canadian content will not top the bill.
"It's good but it's only going to be a handful (of Canadians). You need people from elsewhere. You need probably names. People from the Italian community, Portuguese community, they may show up if there's a Portuguese or an Italian player. But if you don't find any in this team, let's say the general interest will be pretty low."