Born in Gijón, Spain, Benito Floro is the Head Coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team. As a very experienced top level football manager, Floro has coached a number of high profile clubs including Real Madrid, Villarreal CF, RCD Mallorca, Club de Futbol Monterrey and Sporting de Gijon. He has also spent time as director of football of Real Madrid and has been a teacher of Spanish soccer coaches over the years, as well as an international expert and reputed lecturer for coaching education.
Now just over a year into his tenure at the helm of the Canadian Men’s National Team, Floro and the Canadian National Team are coming off very impressive performances against Jamaica and Colombia and are in the midst of what the 62 year old manager has classified as phase two of his plan to increase Canada’s level of proficiency and competitiveness at the International level.
While much of his first year on the job was spent auditioning a large number of players and gaining an understanding of all the players in the Canadian National Team player pool, the Spaniard’s focus is now on developing and fine-tuning the core group of players that will represent Canada at next summer’s Gold Cup and down the road in the next round of World Cup qualifying.
RedNation recently had the chance to catch up with Floro to discuss his participation as a featured presenter at the 2015 National Soccer Coaching Conference, the Canadian National Team’s recent match against Colombia and the progress that has been made with the national team program since he was named Canadian Men’s National Team Head Coach last year.
RedNation Online: Benito, you will be one of the featured clinicians at the National Soccer Coaching Conference that will be held in Toronto at the beginning of next year. What can attendees expect from your sessions?
Benito Floro: I will present two sessions - one theory and one practical. In one I will talk about offensive play and in the other I will focus on defensive play.
RNO: You obviously have a very busy schedule and a full plate with the Canadian National Team program. Why have you decided to make time for the National Soccer Coaching Conference and for teaching other coaches here in Canada?
Benito Floro: It is beneficial for both the national team and all the coaches here in Canada to be able to learn from and take advantage of my experiences.
RNO: What do you think are the most important qualities that a professional coach must have?
Benito Floro: The first one is knowledge. Without knowledge a coach will not know what he has to say and what he has to do and it will be very difficult for that coach to be a good coach. Knowledge is also something that helps to promote a desire for gaining more knowledge. Secondly, coaches who have some knowledge always want to have more and they always want to get better.
RNO: In addition to coaching in your home country, Spain, you have coached around the world, including Japan, Mexico, Ecuador and Morocco. What drew you to Canada as the next country in which you would practice coaching?
Benito Floro: Canadian soccer is in a progressive state, advancing and changing. I believe I can help the Canadian players and the whole system by working with everyone involved to keep it developing and by sharing my knowledge.
RNO: Canada’s most recent match was against Colombia, a side coached by a very highly regarded Head Coach in Jose Pekerman. Who are some of the coaches that you appreciate and rate highly?
Benito Floro: I am nobody to judge a coach, as long as they are respectful of the players. There are so many good coaches out there and so many qualified coaches. So I won’t publicly name or criticize anybody. There are many top quality coaches out there.
Benito Floro speaks with RedNation's Andres Torres after Canada's 3-1 victory over Jamaica on September 9, 2014:
RNO: Prior to Canada’s last match against Colombia, you qualified that game as a big test for your team. Now that the game has been played, do you feel like your team passed that test?
Benito Floro: I consider that defensively the team was very positive. They did everything that we worked on in the training camp (prior to the game). The pressing and the dropping off, we did it well and almost perfectly. But offensively we were not as good. The other team was a very good team with a lot of young players who pressure very well, so they did not allow us to keep a lot of possession with the ball. However, the bottom line is that I am happy with the team and the national team is progressing.
RNO: Canada’s next match will be against a CONCACAF opponent and will be played away to Panama. That will certainly be another difficult test for the Canadian team. What do you expect from the team in that match and what do you hope to learn about your players from that game?
Benito Floro: Obviously, we will try to improve on the defensive aspects of our performance, but the improvement has to be double for the offensive phases of the game. Basically, I believe that if the field is in good condition, we should play better and we will work to create more goalscoring opportunities. That is the main focus and what we are preoccupied with.
RNO: You previously been quoted as saying that Major League Soccer is important to the future of the Canadian National Team. Two of the prominent young players in the league – Jonathan Osorio and Russell Teibert – have not played much for Canada recently. What is the status of those two players and will they be more involved with the program once the 2014 MLS campaign comes to a close?
Benito Floro: These are two young players that I consider. Osorio previously decided to stay with his club to help TFC due to the playoffs, so it was his own decision. The national team is supportive of the clubs and is trying to work with them. In Russell Teibert’s case, he knows what he needs to do to come back to the national team. I have already told him and I’m waiting. Once he does what he needs to do, he will be considered again.
RNO: Lucas Cavallini, who plays professionally in Uruguay, is another young Canadian player that many people are excited about with respect to his potential to help the national team. What is his status and have you had recent communication with him?
Benito Floro: First of all, I believe that the national team needs to be a priority for every player. Obviously, professional players have to balance their priorities between their clubs and the national team. However, in this case, so far Cavallini has decided to stay with his family and has not responded to calls from the national team. There is a spot for him in the future, but right now that has been his decision to date.
RNO: You’ve been the Head Coach for the Canadian Men’s National Team for just over a year now and you obviously have a plan that you have put in place. Are you happy with how things have gone thus far and with the progress the team has made?
Benito Floro: I’m very demanding with myself and I’m very demanding with the players. Obviously, the progress has not been as quick as I would have liked, but the team is progressing and moving forward. The players need to understand that the national team is something that needs to be taken very seriously. As the Head Coach, it is something I consider very important and as a very big responsibility. The team is progressing forward and we will keep working every time out to make it better.