The Canadian Men's National team may still be without a head coach but at least now they have a date on the calendar to look forward to. Many of the players on the team will certainly still have a very bad taste in their mouth from the defeat in Honduras and will be looking to get back on the field and start the long process of putting that debacle behind them.
Canada may not have a new full time head coach in time for the January 26th match but making use of as many of the dates that FIFA allows for international matches was something that the CSA and new technical director Tony Fonseca made clear was a key for future success. With that in mind it is good to see that they have filled the next available friendly date and that they have attracted an opposition of a decent calibre. It is also good to see that they have managed to arrange a match on North American soil meaning that MLS players who are in the midst of early preseason preparations at the time may actually be able to join the squad. It's doubtful that too many of the European based players will be called, so it could be a very interesting makeshift squad.
Canada announced that they will be taking on Denmark at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium in Tuscon, Arizona. It is not a marque friendly on Canadian soil but it is a chance to play against a solid opponent and get back down to serious work. Denmark are currently ranked 22nd in the world ahead of both Sweden and Japan so even though rankings are next to useless it goes to show that this is a decent opposition for Canada to be attracting. Of course, there remains a good chance that Denmark does not bring the likes of Anders Lindegaard, Daniel Agger, Christian Eriksen, and Nicklas Bendtner along with them to Arizona but no matter what sort of squad they bring they will certainly provide a stiff test for Canada. Denmark will be looking at this game and another friendly against Mexico, as a chance to prepare for the next stage of UEFA World Cup Qualifying as they will need to turn things around after picking up just two points from their first three matches. With that in mind it is a safe bet that they will be looking at this match to at least provide a serious training exercise.
On the Canadian side of things it will be interesting to see how the roster ends up being shaped. The European based players will be right in the middle of a key stretch of many of their seasons and the MLS players will just be getting down to work on their preseason training camps making it hard to imagine that Canada will be able to bring in the entire first team. There is also the matter of if they would even want to bring in all the veterans or if this game will be used as a chance to bring in some new blood and start the slow process of reshaping the squad with an eye towards the Gold Cup and more importantly 2018 World Cup Qualifying. It would not be a surprise then to see this squad take on a different look then the team we saw in WCQ this fall with a few surprise inclusions, some fringe players, and the odd veteran in the mix.
The match will be played at a stadium that was built to house baseball and is certainly not the ideal fit for a soccer game but it does seat 11,000 fans and is in a nice warm climate for a brief training camp and a friendly. It is not a facility that is unfamiliar to hosting soccer matches though as in the past it has played host to the Desert Diamond Cup. For the past two years the stadium has been home to one of the key MLS preseason tournaments and they will host the event again in 2013. So although it is not the ideal facility for hosting a soccer match it will certainly be prepared for the challenges.
This match will be the first meeting between Canada and Denmark since 1995. The last time they met Canada suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Danes thanks to a strike from Højer Nielsen in the 52nd minute. The match was part of the Skydome Cup that featured Canada, Denmark, and the eventual champions Portugal. At the time Denmark were the reigning European Champions but they left basically the entire first team in Europe and brought a squad made up of top players from the Danish League. A similar result this time around would probably be a positive for Canada as they will want to get back to being defensively disciplined.