09/07/2013 11:13 EDT | Updated 11/07/2013 05:12 EST

New coach Benito Floro begins rebuild of Canadian men's soccer team in Spain

OLIVA, Spain - The latest rebuilding project of the Canadian men's soccer team is taking place in a quiet corner of southeast Spain.

It's here, among the acres of orange groves and palm trees, that new head coach Benito Floro is beginning to reshape a program left in tatters following a disastrous exit from 2014 World Cup qualifying.

From teenagers to veterans, the 61-year-old Spaniard has been putting a group of more than 30 players through the paces for the last week in this town an hour south of Valencia.

Floro will get a glimpse of what he has to work with in his first game as national team coach on Sunday in a friendly against Mauritania.

"The most important thing at this moment is to increase the confidence of the team," Floro said after the team trained on Saturday. "For us the game is training but it's more serious because it's important to win the game. At the moment it's important to win the game but while we're doing what we've been working on all week."

Canada hasn't tasted victory in almost a year and has taken its lumps during that time as the program begins its long preparations for 2018 World Cup qualifying.

It's been a busy camp with most days featuring two training sessions, video work, meetings and plenty of team bonding.

Nametags might have been a good idea, with many players unfamiliar with each other prior to this camp.

"It's been an eye-opener for me because a lot of the young boys that are here, I've never seen them play," said 29-year-old forward Iain Hume, who picked up a minor injury and will return to his club team in England on Sunday.

"To see some 17- and 18-year-old boys, it's a different level than what we've had over the last ten years."

The focus is on getting players on the same page so that whenever someone is brought into the squad, they will know the new coach's style.

Canada is staying in a hotel that features a golf course, beach and vacation apartments but little else.

"It's kind of like a Canadian national team pre-season," said 35-year-old midfielder Dwayne De Rosario, who is back with the squad after being omitted from the team during this past summer's Gold Cup tournament. "(Floro's) really getting his message across the way he wants us to play, the way he wants us to attack and defend, which is vital for the development of our national team moving forward.

"The earlier we can all understand the way he wants us to play, the clearer the picture will be going forward."

Floro, who filled the vacancy left by Stephen Hart as coach earlier this summer, will also get a second look at his players when Canada meets Mauritania for a second time on Tuesday.

An impoverished West African country on the edge of the Sahara, Mauritania is currently ranked at 151 compared to Canada's 91.

But Mauritania, a country where the current president came to power in a military coup in 2008, is steadily improving, having jumped up 21 places in last month's FIFA rankings.

"We are going to review two (Mauritania) matches to prepare the formation for our players," said Floro, whose third language is English, behind Spanish and French. "The other information around (Mauritania) is it's a pretty good team with a lot of speed and good intentions."

Clearly out to impress the new coach, there were a number of hard tackles thrown around in Saturday's training, with a few Canadian players needing some ice afterwards. The tempo was high, with most of the session taken up with scrimmage games that mixed in veterans and younger players.

"One thing I know we've lacked in the past is meeting some of the young, up-and-coming talents," said De Rosario. "This is the first camp I've been to where we've had a mixture of senior players and a mixture of young kids that is going to be the future national team players."