PASADENA, Calif. – Long before Fabrice Reuperne hit the winning strike in the last second of their astounding 1-0 victory over Canada on Sunday, Martinique had no shortage of chances to kill the game.
Despite getting let off the hook on a number of occasions, Canadian goalkeeper Milan Borjan and the back four had plenty of shaky moments. Twice in the first half, he punched crosses that he should have caught and both times Martinique were rewarded with scoring chances. But after all their shortcomings and vulnerabilities over the 90 minutes, Canada very nearly held out to salvage a point.
“It was just the last minute,” said Borjan, who was the only Canadian player out to speak with the media after the game. “Everybody’s down, tired, everybody’s concentration went down but that’s football. It happens. You’ve got to pick your head up and go forward.”
After his difficult first half, Borjan redeemed himself with a few quality saves to start the second half. He also took control in the air on crosses in claiming a few tricky balls that were sent into the area.
Interim head coach Colin Miller noticed the change in the second half, saying afterwards that Borjan was “more assured in the second half and made some good saves.”
In a game like this, Canada were beaten all over the pitch. Just as they had to contain with wave after wave of Martinique attack, they were unable to put out any sustained offensive pressure.
“We had an OK game defensively,” said Borjan. “I think we played really good but offensively again we didn’t score a goal and you need, in this tournament, to score some goals.”
With most of the previous generation of defenders left off the roster and the veteran goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld on the bench, the trial by fire has already begun for the revamped defensive unit. Just like everywhere else on the field, it’s all part of rebuilding the program.
“It’s clearly a concern when you give chances up but we’re not 89th in the world or whatever because we’re not fantastic at everything we do, so it’s a rebuilding process,” Miller said. “We can’t expect miracles. It’s easy to pick on the negatives all the time but there were some good performances individually there today and we’ll pick on the positive things.”