Canada head coach John Herdman made headlines following his team’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium on Wednesday, headlines a Croatia newspaper jumped on. The Canadians played very well against one of the World Cup favorites, but failed to collect any points on the night. Herdman also made an interesting speech to his players following the game.

The coach was then interviewed and asked what he told his team following the disappointing defeat. “I told them they belong here. And we’re going to go and F Croatia,” said Herdman. “That’s as simple as it gets.”

Herdman’s comments obviously did not go down well in Croatia. 24sata, a daily newspaper in the country’s capital of Zagreb, put the Canadian coach on the front page in interesting style. Alongside a mock photo of Herdman, the headline reads: “You have the mouth but do you have the balls as well?”

Following the backlash, Herdman clarified his comments. “I mean, you say those things in an impassioned moment trying to inspire your team in a huddle,” stated Herdman. “And when you’re asked a question ‘What did you say in that huddle?’ It’s what I said. It’s not massively respectful to Croatian people and the Croatian national team.”

“I understand very well where we’re at on the world stage, but in that moment you enter that next place, you take your team to that next place that we’re here to be fearless and to bring everything we’ve got to that game.”

Canada manager means no disrespect towards Croatia after newspaper headline

Herdman insisted that he meant no harm or disrespect with his comments, but also claimed that this is the mindset his team needs.

“I mean no disrespect to the Croatian team and Croatian people, but at the end of the day it’s a mindset that Canada is going to have if we’re going to have three points against one of the top teams in the world,” Herdman continued. “And it’s the mindset we took to Belgium. We have to; it’s part of ‘New Canada.’”

Canada and Croatia face off on Sunday, November 27th. The contest already had predictions of significance. Now, there is even more reason to watch.

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final