By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 19, 2024.
Canada Soccer has extended Mauro Biello’s run as interim men’s national team coach through the Copa America qualifier in March.
Biello, a former assistant coach, was put in temporary charge when John Herdman stepped down in late August to take charge of Toronto FC.
Canada Soccer said Biello will remain at the helm until a permanent head coach is chosen.
The governing body says “the global search” for a permanent coach is “active and continues.” Biello has said he is a candidate for the job.
The 48th-ranked Canadian men take on No. 96 Trinidad and Tobago in a one-match playoff March 23 in Frisco, Texas, to determine who qualifies for the Copa America. No. 52 Costa Rica plays No. 76 Honduras in another qualifier in the same venue the same day.
“We have unfinished business, and we are all solely focused on winning and booking our place into one of the world’s biggest tournaments against some of the best competition our sport can offer,” Biello said in a statement. “This is an important step for our group of players, our program and Canada as the journey continues towards the FIFA World Cup 2026.”
The Canadian men are 1-2-0 under Biello, a former Canadian international who was head coach of the Montreal Impact from 2015 to 2017.
Canada was beaten 4-1 to No. 17 Japan in an October friendly before losing a two-game aggregate series with No. 55 Jamaica in November that consigned them to the March playoff against Trinidad. While Canada won the opening leg 2-1 in Jamaica, it lost 3-2 in Toronto and dropped the series on the away-goals rule.
The 16-team Copa America, to be held in the U.S. from June 20 to July 14, features 10 teams from South America and six guest sides from CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The U.S., Mexico, Jamaica and Panama have already qualified, to be joined by the winners of the Canada-Trinidad and Costa Rica-Honduras playoffs.
“Qualifying for Copa America is a top priority for us, and we see it as a key major tournament ahead of a home World Cup,” Paulo Senra, Canada Soccer’s chief communications and content officer, said in making the announcement Friday. “We have confidence in Mauro and today’s decision maintains the stability our men’s program needs.”
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2024.