Interim Canada coach reunited with Scottish counterpart after 34 years

Canada coach looks forward to Scottish reunion

In 1983 while Scotland was touring Canada, manager Jock Stein requested a closed-door game in Vancouver to help fine-tune his team.

Michael Findlay was one of the Canadian players who made up the opposition for what turned out to be a one-sided runout in favour of the Scots.

“I think it was 5-1 or something,” he recalled.

After the match, all the players mingled for a group photo that saw Findlay in the front row next to then-Aberdeen midfielder Gordon Strachan.

On Wednesday, some 34 years on, the two will be reunited as rival managers as Canada meets Scotland in a soccer friendly at Easter Road Stadium

“Thirty-odd years ago in a random photo we’re next to each other and now here we are coaching against each other,” Findlay marvelled.

New Canadian manager Octavio Zambrano will be in the stands Wednesday as Findley finishes out his stretch as interim head coach.

“He’ll be in attendance and he’s looking forward to it,” Findlay said of his new Ecuadorian boss.

Findlay, who is staying on as one of Zambrano’s assistant coaches, has a 2-2-0 record since taking over after the departure of Benito Floro last September. 

The pressure will likely be more on Strachan, who is using the Canada game as a tune-up for a key World Cup qualifier Sunday in Glasgow against Slovenia. Scotland (1-2-1) needs a win to stay in touch in a group that also features England, Slovakia, Lithuania and Malta.

“I think it will be a motivated squad,’ Findlay said of the Scots. “I think there are some players who want to impress Gordon Strachan in terms of selection for that game Sunday.”

Findlay has Scottish ties himself. His parents are from Dumfriesshire and, as a youngster, he was a trialist with Glasgow Celtic and Partick Thistle.

His roommate back then was David Moyse, the current Sunderland manager.

“For me to be standing in the technical area coaching against Scotland, you can probably put it in the dream come true category,” Findlay said.

The game will also be special for Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield, a former Scotland under-21 player who qualifies for Canada though his Toronto-born father.

Findlay says Arfield just wants a Canadian win.

“This game, he has not made it about himself,” he said. “It’s about the team getting a result and the team performing well. But there is a special moment for him given the fact he has such a strong Scottish heritage and he was part of the Scotland program at one time as a youth.

“Every professional player wants to send a message to people so I’m sure he’s going to wants to do that on Wednesday night.”

At No. 67, Scotland is ranked 50 places higher than Canada, which has lost all five previous meetings between the two.

With the Major League Soccer season in its early days, the Canadian Soccer Association has selected a largely European-based squad. 

FC Edmonton defender/midfielder Nik Ledgerwood, one of six North American-based squad on the 18-man squad, will captain Canada on the occasion of his 50th cap.

“I think a player such as Nik deserves that honour after being an amazing servant for us,” said Findlay. “Fifty appearances for any country is something to applaud.”

Vancouver Whitecaps defender Marcel de Jong, who is not part of this squad, was captain when he won his 50th cap in a 4-2 win over Bermuda in January.


Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter

Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press

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