The Canadian men's national team have added another friendly to their 2016 schedule. The team will play Uzbekistan on June 7 in Austria. The match is part of a previously existing European camp, which sees the side play Azerbaijan on June 3. Both matches are preparation for Canada's upcoming pair of crucial World Cup qualifiers against El Salvador and Honduras in September.
Uzbekistan, while not a well-known side in international football, will present a difficult test for the Canadian team. They currently rank 66th in the World, making them the sixth highest ranked team in Asia. This puts them ahead of both of Canada's September opponents as Honduras is ranked 86th and El Salvador is 98th.
They are currently involved in World Cup qualifying of their own and recently finished first in a qualifying group that included North Korea and Bahrain. They will begin the third and final stage of Asian qualifying in September, and have been drawn in a group that includes China, South Korea, and Iran.
Most of the Uzbekistan team plays domestically in the Uzbek League. However, their squad does include notable players like defender Vitaliy Denisov who plays for Lokomotiv Moscow in Russia and Alexander Geynrikh who plays for Ordabasy in Kazakstan. Geynrikh is the side's leading scorer, with 30 international goals.
Aside from the usual benefits of having a European-based camp, the CSA was smart to schedule the national team against teams who are ranked similarly to their September opponents. This gives Canada a chance to test themselves against sides of a different level, rather than be forced to defend against a side significantly better than them.
It is unfortunate that the games could not be played in Canada, or in Central America. This, after all, would have been a much more accurate test for the Canadian team. However, all of the top sides in CONCACAF will be competing in the Copa America Centenario at that time.