North American outsiders Canada, fresh in Abu Dhabi from their group-stage home base of Dubai, will have a stern test ahead if they are to best Burkina Faso and become the only men’s side from the Great White North to reach the Last Eight of a FIFA finals. Iain Hume, striker extraordinaire with the odd-looking hair told FIFA.com that if the side stay true to their “Canuck style” against the Honest Men, they should be fine. But after running rampant through Group A without conceding a goal, the Burkinabe backline might have a surprise in store for the scrappy upstarts.
The Canadians only just found their way into the Round of Sixteen as one of the best third-place finishers – picking a route through a tough group alongside Brazil, Australia and the Czech Republic. But that does not seem to be bothering young Tranmere Rover Hume, who is brimming with confidence ahead of the must-win one-off with Burkina Faso. “I know that they play a typically African game,” the striker told FIFA.com. “They are athletic, strong and quick, and we also know that they have yet to concede a goal. But as long as we go out and play our style, we’ll be all right. I can’t really imagine their defenders can be that much better than Brazil’s…and we found a way to break them down.”
Play the “Canuck Way”
Both Hume and skillful mate Wyn Belotte speak of a decided Canuck Style of football - with a focus on hard-work, endeavor and some of the gruffer elements of the game. “We just want to be as difficult to beat as we possibly can. We play that Canuck style; we go out there and work our tails off and fight and scrap in the Canadian way.”
Bellote – who plays his club football for Poland’s Wisla Krakow - agrees with his mate about playing to their strengths in the upcoming match with Burkina Faso. “We just have to play in the Canuck way and never be intimated,” he said. “More than anything we just want to go as far as we can and be the best Canadian team we can be.”
ut Hume also sees the Canuck style in a state of refinement. “I think at these finals we’ve gone a long way to catching up with the rest of the nations…and playing the world’s game. Our passing game has evolved quite a bit, and it’s only getting better.”
Well-rounded Burkinabe will be ready
If the Canuck way is still primarily about fighting spirit and tough-as-nails grit, the Burkinabe will give as good as they get. One of the most outstanding defensive teams at the finals, the West Africans are also never shy about getting up the pitch when they need to…or getting stuck in. Physically strong and organisationally sound, the Honest Men are more than a handful on the pitch. And their 270 first-round minutes without a goal conceded will surely not have gone unnoticed by Canada and their star striker with the fabulous Mohican hairstyle.
Defender Soumalia Tassembedo seemed calm and collected under the sun outside the team hotel in Abu Dhabi. “We have seen the Canadian team play a little bit on video,” he said. “We know they are strong physically and tough, but I have complete faith in our team. We will play our game and play to win.”
Striker Seydou Barro echoed his teammates sentiments, and even went a bit further. “Canada are a very strong team, very physical,” he said. “They will not be easy to beat, but I feel we will win. I always feel that Burkina Faso will win.”
utch-born boss Mart Nooij has been at the helm for three years now and has tried his best to instill a sense of tactical awareness in his obviously gifted squad. And their record of two wins and a draw in the first round with no goals conceded seems to indicate a degree of success. “They have been playing together for a full two years,” he said. “And the African players love to play creative, touch football. I encourage my players to do this, as it is comfortable for them. But I also try to add my Dutch footballing culture into the mix. We Dutch like to control the game. As a result my team is as fast and technical as an African team, but also as tactical and organised as any European team.”
Hume flies the flag with pride…on his head
The unquenchable sense of team spirit in the Canadian camp is well on display on the pitch, but the striker seems to have gone off the deep end a bit. His red and white striped Mohican hairdo is evidence enough of that.
“As a striker, I just want to go out and get goals for the team,” he said. “If I get a few, then great. But really my only concern is the result for the team. As long as we win, that’s all that counts.”
“Normally I keep it skin short,” he says about his hair with a smile. “But I grew it a bit longer before the tournament and asked the rest of the team ‘what should I do with it?’ So before our first game, we headed off the barber shop in the hotel and we all decided on the Mohican, with the red and white stripes.”
“It’s no big deal really,” he adds with his hair under a skullcap. “Just flying the flag for the lads.”