In a game that had tackles aplenty but no goals, Canada’s men’s soccer team picked up a scoreless draw against Mauritania on Sunday in new head coach Benito Floro’s debut with the national team.
With more than 30 players in camp, Canada dressed 18 players and save for their teammates that didn’t dress, a delegation from the Mauritanian embassy in Spain, and a few curious locals, there weren’t many people there to take in the game at the resort where both teams are camped.
A young Canadian team looked shaky early as a quick Mauritanian side pressured the ball.
On more than one occasion, the West Africans got a bit carried away as midfielders Kyle Bekker and Kyle Porter went down under heavy challenges just past the 10-minute mark. The rest of the game was defined by lots of shirt-pulling and hard tackles as words were exchanged between both sets of players on numerous occasions.
The best chance of the game came in the 21st minute. Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio collected a pass from club teammate Ashtone Morgan before cutting inside and unleashing a fiercely struck right-footed curling effort that had to be tipped over for a corner kick.
Making his debut on the bench, Floro was mostly silent, only rising once or twice to direct his new team. It was a stark contrast to his counterpart, Frenchman Patrice Neveu, who barely took time to draw breath as he barked orders for almost the entire 90 minutes.
Canada controlled the possession for much of the second half and in the early few moments looked like they could get a goal.
But apart from a Dwayne De Rosario effort that was easily saved three minutes into the second half, there wasn’t much offence on either end.