Canada are currently top of the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers
In the coming weeks, fights against Honduras, the United States and El Salvador are on the agenda.
Defender Kamal Miller discusses the team’s rise and the importance of qualifying for the World Cup
In 2021, numerous success stories were written in football. But none of FIFA’s 211 member associations can match Canada’s success.
The women’s team’s Olympic gold medal has already confirmed to be a completely successful year for Canada, regardless of the men’s team’s performance, which was not much expected after decades.
But all of a sudden, at the start of a World Cup year, coach John Hertmann’s side were unbeaten in the final round of the Concacaf qualifiers. Following the victories against Costa Rica and Mexico in November, Canada’s men’s team has risen above other teams in the 2021 FIFA / Coca-Cola world rankings. Under Hertman, the team improved from 94th to 40th.
Kamal Miller has been the mainstay of the team throughout their remarkable rise and has received accolades for his performance at the Canadian Defense Center. The 24-year-old center-back is owned by a new generation of players who are redefining the country’s expectations. With three major qualifiers ahead, he is keen to bring the football story to a successful conclusion.
FIFA.com: Kamal, How does it feel to be number one in the Concacaf Zone with Canada in the final round of the World Cup qualifiers? Kamal Miller: This is unbelievable. I have never seen Canada in a situation like this in my life. Not even far away. Everyone on the team is so thankful to be a part of a generation that makes this great time and history. The enthusiasm of the fans is greater than ever and now we want to make it as much as possible.
Given Canada as a team that is not yet at the top of the world, how much does their success have to do with players changing their mindset as a team and seeing themselves as equal to the United States, Mexico and other countries?
We always believe in our own abilities, but the most important thing is to support it through performance and play as a ‘big team’. The 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup is my first match with Canada and I was able to say from the beginning that it was about the lofty goal of getting where we are now. As players, we improved and became more confident in every training camp and in every game. What we need is decisions on paper to support that progress and to convince the country that we are a real team and a serious competitor to qualify. Now that the results are there, the numbers are not lying.
For all the victories of the past year, after winning the gold medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Championship, Canadian football really feels like taking steam at this time.In any case. Truth be told, women have always set the standard in Canadian football – and very high. As long as I was on the team, we followed them and tried to reach their level and achieve a little of what they achieved. I think we are very proud to be the generation that does what we truly excel at on the men’s and women’s teams and gets the respect we deserve and deserve. This is very interesting because everything that has happened in the last year shows that it is really possible to achieve something for future generations.
After the Olympic victory, Christine Sinclair spoke of John Hertmann’s role in sowing a new spirit in the team and setting Canada on the road to victory. Has he had a similar influence here since switching to the men’s team?
He certainly plays a major role in what we have achieved. There have never been many strong players in Canada, but as a coach you have to make the right choice, he does just that. He has developed good team chemistry and is very humble. Many coaches think they are bigger than their team, but he always shows us his compliments and prepares us very carefully for each game with countless details. We always feel that we can get good results even if we are still backward and we have a plan to achieve it.
He spoke highly of you and openly trusted you from the very beginning of your career. How important is it to have the coach’s confidence?
That was very important. I think the importance of the player-coach relationship in football is often underestimated. It is important for me to trust what my coach tells me and to know that he has full confidence in implementing the instructions.
While this may not be as important as the results of the World Cup qualifiers, the players have realized that they are the most advanced team in the FIFA / Coca-Cola world rankings last year. Are you a little proud of that too?Yes, of course. Numbers and figures would not let us be guided too much, but we were very happy that we were able to improve so much. This is very significant. It’s not the most advanced players, it’s the most advanced team, and that’s something we can be proud of. We are a team, a family and it is a pleasure to be rewarded for the hard work we do together.
Alfonso Davis is the most recognizable name on the Canadian team. But he fits so well into the family mood you say he seems to not expect to come to any pedestal.
That’s true, it came from Alfonso. He is a superstar, one of the biggest names in football and in his capacity he can play for any team in the world. I’m proud of him being Canadian when I see him doing his thing. But he’s only one of us on the national team, I think he really enjoys it. He is as comfortable as he is with his brothers and we all really admire each other. ‘Fancy’ does not care about headlines. He only wants the best for everyone on the team – and he wants us to win.
They now have three important games to play through their home game against the United States between playing overseas in Honduras and El Salvador. How do you approach the different challenges that these games present?As you say, all three games are very different, and each has to show different qualities. It’s obvious, but it’s really about taking on these challenges one at a time and not reaching out to ourselves. Being in the first place is fun, but we know it will change quickly, so we will humbly be hungry.
Thanks to the successes you have had in qualifying so far, you have said that the excitement in Canada has increased significantly. If Canada really qualified for the World Cup, what do you think would mean football in this country?
I truly hope this will unite the country and open many doors for any Canadian who wants to play football. It will stimulate the imagination, make children dream more, and it will give more respect to football across the country and at all levels. We need to qualify for the World Cup to go to the next level and we want that.
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