The Canadian men’s soccer team has finally found a new coach.
Multiple sources confirmed to Sportsnet on Wednesday that Canada Soccer has hired Ecuadorian Octavio Zambrano to take over as manager of the men’s side.
One source told Sportsnet that Zambrano will bring with him two or three assistants from South America to round out his staff. One of those assistants is believed to be Peruvian Javier Livia, who previously worked with Italian club Livorno.
Canada Soccer is expected to officially introduce Zambrano on Friday morning during a press event held at a downtown Toronto hotel.
Canada Soccer had no comment when reached by Sportsnet on Wednesday afternoon.
Italian website GazzaMercato appeared to have first reported on Zambrano’s hiring earlier this month.
The Canadian men’s team has been without a coach since Benito Floro did not have his contract renewed last September following the Reds’ elimination from 2018 World Cup qualifying. Michael Findlay has served as interim manager since Floro’s departure.
Zambrano, 59, previously was in charge of the LA Galaxy and New York MetroStars in Major League Soccer. He has managed pro teams in Moldova, Hungary, Colombia and his native Ecuador, and he was also previously an assistant coach with Sporting Kansas City.
This is Zambrano’s first job as a national team manager, and it’s safe to say he will have his work cut out.
Canada is 117th in the current FIFA world rankings, sandwiched between Botswana and Nicaragua. What’s more, the Reds have not qualified for the World Cup since 1986 in Mexico (their lone appearance), and they last made it to the Hex (the final round of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region) for the 1998 competition held in France.
Canada has also had a rough go of it at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, bowing out in the first round in each of the last three competitions. They’ve even failed to win a game or score a single goal over the course of the previous two tournaments.
This represents the 12th coaching change—including interim appointments—in the last 14 years for the Canadian men’s team. Zambrano’s predecessors in that time included Floro, Findlay, Colin Miller, Frank Yallop, Stephen Hart and Dale Mitchell.
No man has held on to his job for four years since Holger Osieck from 1999 to 2003. Floro lasted just over three years in the position.
Zambrano’s arrival comes before this summer’s Gold Cup when Canada will compete in a round-robin group that includes Honduras, Costa Rica and French Guiana. Before that, the Reds will play a tune-up match against Curaçao on June 14 in Montreal.
Zambrano’s first game in charge could be on March 22 when Canada takes on Scotland in an international friendly in Edinburgh.