Western's all-stars selected to represent Canada

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Following an Ontario University Athletics championship season, four members of Western’s men’s soccer team have been selected to represent Canada at the 2007 Summer Universiade in Bangkok, Thailand.

The tournament, which is being held from Aug. 7-17, will feature top talent from 16 countries around the world.

The three Mustangs included on the roster are forward Jason De Thomasis, defender Adam Legg and goalkeeper Haidar Al-Shaibani. Midfielder Dante Biscaro was selected as one of the three alternates for the 19 man roster.

In addition to having representation on the field, ’Stangs head coach Rock Basacco will be an assistant coach with the Canadian roster.

Basacco discussed his goals for the roster.

“The goal of the coaching staff is to finish in the top eight in the tournament,” he said. “Finishing in this position guarantees us a spot back in the games in 2009.”

With the start of the tournament less than two months away, all three players are in the midst of training.

De Thomasis, who led all Canadian Interuniversity Sport players with nine goals in 2006, discussed preparation going into the tournament.

“When I’m playing my [club team] games now, I’m thinking about Thailand in the back of my head,” he said. “So the way I play, I’m always trying to think about playing at a faster speed or a higher level to try to get better habits.”

He also discussed the importance of playing abroad with two of his teammates.

“It’s a huge help knowing I’ll have two guys there who I’m comfortable with. It helps you as a player knowing you have someone on the field who knows your style.”

The team will certainly feel comfortable with Al-Shaibani in net; he only allowed six goals in 10 games this past year and is a three-time OUA all-star. Basacco discussed the importance of his goalkeeper.

“He’s probably one of the main reasons why we’ve won two OUA championships,” he said. “The coaches saw him [at the training camp] and right away they wanted him as one of the two goalkeepers going to the games.”

Legg, who captained Western this past year, is expecting a high level of play.

“I think this will be the most competitive soccer I’ve ever played,” he said. “The fitness levels are going to be really high, and I’m sure there will be lots of passionate players out there so it’ll be exciting for that.”

Prior to the tournament, the team will have a two-day training camp in Vancouver, followed by a five day training camp in Beijing, China. Canada will play its opening match on Aug. 7 against the host country, Thailand.

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