Canada removes interim tag from Hart's title
By Vijay Setlur
TORONTO - Stephen Hart had the interim tag removed from his title as manager of the Canadian national team on Monday, given the job full time in the country's bid to return to the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
General Secretary Peter Montopoli made the announcement at a news conference in downtown Toronto, formalizing the position the Trinidad & Tobago native was given in April.
"My role will be, No. 1, to assemble a staff and, No. 2, to present a team that is not only competitive, but understands what is required from all levels and to make the players understand that they are the ones that are responsible for putting Canada on the map," Hart said.
"It will be our objective to focus on the CONCACAF qualifications for 2012. I have no qualms about experimenting, about using the CONCACAF Gold Cup competition to prepare towards this."
Hart, 45, already has had success since retaking the helm, leading Canada to the quarterfinals of Gold Cup in July before losing to eventual World Cup qualifier Honduras. This is Hart's second time as manager, having led Canada to a semifinal berth in the 2007 Gold Cup before losing to the eventual champion United States.
"The matter with which he handled the team at the CONCACAF tournaments, Gold Cup 2007 and 2009, strongly positioned him for this leadership role," Montopoli said.
"His strong technical knowledge and the respect he has within the Canadian soccer community and the style of play and knowledge of CONCACAF, which really at the end of the day is the qualifier for the World Cup…and I don't think there's no better person who has the familiarity with CONCACAF and leading our Canadian national team."
Hart already has won four of his eight games in charge since April, losing three and drawing one. Canada won Group A at the Gold Cup and Hart has was won nine, drawn two and lost seven in his two stints as manager, the best winning percentage in CSA history.
Hart replaced Dale Mitchell, who was fired in March after Canada was eliminated from World Cup qualifying in the semifinal round.
With the appointment, Hart relinquishes his role as the CSA's technical director, which he held since March 2008. Montopoli said the CSA will name a replacement early next year.
Besides approving Hart's elevation at its weekend meeting, the CSA's board set its 2010 budget, approved a new governance framework in principle and committed both men's and women's national teams to playing multiple home games in the same season for the first time in 11 years.