Daniel Imhof (right) is pressed against Germany by Thorsten Frings.Image: Imago Images
Hope Schweiz Canada
Canada has qualified for the World Cup for the first time in 36 years. Meanwhile, successes were few and far between. FCSG legend Daniel Imhof still has fond memories of his time on the Canadian national team.
29, 35, 36, 37 There is an internet controversy over the number of caps Daniel Imhof has won for Canada. “37 or 39, I don’t really know myself,” says the former midfielder in accent-free Swiss German.
The 44-year-old played for Canada in the 2000s, playing nearly 250 times for FC St.Gallen and 99 times for VfL Bochum. Today Imhof lives again in Smithers, a village of 5,000 people in the province of British Columbia. The Imhof family moved from eastern Switzerland before little Daniel went to school.
Imhof is at home in the Bulkley Valley, about a twelve-hour drive north of Vancouver.Image: Imago Stock & People
When Canada participated in the soccer World Cup for the first time in 1986, the boys ignored it. “I didn’t know anything about it until I was eight,” says Imhof. Happily, Canada has joined the music festival of the bigwigs for once.
National team today with more importance than in the past
Imhof said, “The players and the coach believe in themselves and they can cause surprises.” “But it’s a tough group. Realistically, it’s likely that Canada can do something against Morocco. However, it will be tougher against Belgium and Croatia.”
The successful start of the World Cup against Belgium should not be lost on the conviction and self-confidence. For Daniel Imhof, these components are a big plus. «The first difference is the coach. John Herdman gave the team the belief that they could win every game. The national team also has a completely different meaning for today’s players. It is a huge credit to the coach. In my opinion, that’s why World Cup qualification was successful.”
“If losing is already on your mind, it will be difficult”
It was very different in his time. The players traveled to the national team knowing that their chances of winning were slim.
“I played for many teams and when I became champion with St. Gallen, no one gave us a chance. But the team believed in itself and knew there was still something to achieve after being 3-0 down ” imhof think so Legendary 4:4 on GC The last round at the beginning of 1999/2000. He still follows FCSG closely and is in regular contact with Charles Amoah in particular.
A great moment in the club’s history: St. Gallen (Ionel Gehen takes goalkeeper Jörg Still) knocks the great Chelsea out of the UEFA Cup.Image: Keystone
This belief in their abilities is what sets a good team apart. “And then there are teams that have no confidence and you think: just don’t lose. But if losing is already in your head then it becomes difficult.” And this was the case in his time, as Mexico and the United States were virtually unbeatable in CONCACAF, the football confederation of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
like football in the sauna
Things have changed a bit and Canada has caught up, says Imhof, who has seen a modest boom in soccer in the country. A professional league began operations in 2019 and the country will co-host the World Cup in 2026. “Kids’ soccer is very popular in Canada, but there’s still a problem when it comes to professional soccer,” says Imhof. “The fact that Canada is now playing in the World Cup can give all the kids a goal to aim for. It can show them that it is actually possible to make it from Canada to the summit. It was something that was happening in my generation at the time.” was not.” For this reason alone, participating in tournaments in Qatar is of utmost importance.
Because little could be achieved in terms of results, Daniel Imhof essentially focused on experiences while traveling with the national team – and he made plenty. “In Guatemala, the games were always scheduled at the hottest times of the day, when it was like a sauna,” Imhof recalls. “In some countries, the spectators threw bottles and other objects at us, so you felt a real hatred for yourself. And referees whistle everything against you in such an environment, they are totally affected by it.”
With FCSG, Imhof (second from left) sensationally became champion in 2000.Image: Keystone
Imhof suggests coping in the same way. “I always said: we have to play our home games in the coldest places to make it difficult for the opponent.” The present leadership of the Sangh also had the same idea. In the Qatar qualifiers, they host Mexico in Edmonton in November 2021. Where there was snow and it was -15 degrees cold. “It certainly wasn’t easy for the Mexicans,” says Imhof. Canada won the landmark game 2–1.
Encounter with CR7 and Maradona
A friendly match in May 2002 in St. Gallen Espanyol, “his” stadium, was better than Guatemala’s. Imhof and Canada Beat Switzerland 3-1. “This victory is definitely one of the best memories in the national team,” confirms Imhof. he also has Against Portugal with Cristiano Ronaldo allowed to play Gold Cup in 2002, where Canada finished third.
His last international match in 2010 was also very special. Although Canada lost 5–0 in Argentina, Still, Imhof talks about a great experience. “Actually, I had tendered my resignation, but they convinced me to play one more game. I came straight from the holidays, met the team in Buenos Aires and I’m glad I did.”
The last international match was one of the best: Imhof against Angel Di Maria of Argentina.Image: Imago
No wonder: the coach of Argentina was Diego Maradona, the opponents were Gonzalo Higuain, Carlos Tevez, Ángel Di Maria, Sergio Agüero and Martín Palermo. Only Lionel Messi was missing as he was rested for the World Cup. “It was a really great experience,” enthused Imhof, despite the high defeat.
Whether it was the last 36th, 37th or 39th international match – who cares?
visitors from switzerland
Imhof also includes a football school on site. “If we lived somewhere else, I’d love to do it professionally,” he says. Has he already discovered the next national player from the small town? “I’m working on it,” Imhof says and laughs. “There are already some who have potential. My 13-year-old son is very excited about football and dreams of a career.”
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