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Canada to play pair of friendlies against Iceland

The Canadian men's national team is heading back to Florida for their January training camp and will square off twice against one of the most exciting young teams in European soccer as they kick off an important 2015 calendar.

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The Canadian Soccer Association have confirmed that the men's national team will be getting together for another January camp.  The team will head down to Orlando for a training camp that will include a pair of matches against Iceland on January 16th and 19th.

The pair of games against Iceland should be a good test for the Canadian squad that is looking to continue to improve ahead of the 2015 Gold Cup and the next round of World Cup qualifying.  While Iceland may not bring their entire first choice squad for two games in North America in January they should still be able to put together the kind of team that will provide stiff opposition for Canada.

Iceland are currently ranked 28th in the World and came up just short in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Iceland finished second in their qualification group which sent them to a playoff against Croatia.  After a 0-0 draw in Reykjavik they lost the return leg 2-0 in Zagreb.

While Iceland have never qualified for a World Cup or a European Championship they are a country that is on the rise with several promising young players highlighting their roster.  They are also doing well in the early stages of qualification for Euro 2016 sitting second in their group, ahead of the Netherlands.

If Iceland bring the likes of Gylfi Sigurðsson, Aron Gunnarsson, Kolbeinn Sigþórsson, and Alfreð Finnbogason for this pair of games they will certainly have more than enough quality to cause the Canadian defenders problems.  They can also bring a very young squad (their four best players are 25 or younger) and still pack a lot of punch.

The Canadian side of things is likely to be a fairly young squad.  The January camp is traditionally based around a younger squad with a few of the core veterans thrown in for leadership.  There is a decent chance that Benito Floro brings in a roster for these games that relies heavily on U-23 players.  If he does go with a younger squad they will certainly have their hands full against this opponent.

The choice of Iceland for the opposition during the camp comes as the result of an agreement that the two federations made after Canada travelled to Iceland for a match back in 2007.  That match, the only previous meeting between the two nations at this level, ended in a 1-1 draw.

These games will kick off what is going to be an important 2015 for the CanMNT.  The team is set to take part in their first stage of qualification for the 2018 World Cup in June and there is also the Gold Cup during the summer months.  After two years without any games that really mattered things are going to get very serious again in 2015.  These games should be a good start to that.