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Canada Finishes Austria Camp Strong with Win Over Uzbekistan

The national team were able to grab a big victory in an all-important preparation camp.

Canada Soccer - Flickr

The Canadian men's national team finished their June Camp in Austria in good form, with a 2-1 win over Uzbekistan. After underwhelming against Azerbaijan in their opening match, Canada showed progress against Uzbekistan, currently ranked 66th in the World.

An Uzbek own goal from Akramjon Komilov gave Canada a late winning goal in the 80th minute. David Edgar also scored for Canada, while Eldor Shomurodov replied for Uzbekistan.

The win ended a five-game winless streak for the Canadian national team, which stretches back to November 2015 when they beat Honduras 1-0 in World Cup qualifying. Canada hadn't beaten a team ranked in the top 70 in the FIFA rankings since they beat Panama 1-0 in 2012 at BMO Field.

The Canadians got off to a good start creating a couple of chances, mostly through Junior Hoilett who was making his first start of the camp after coming off the bench last match. It was Hoilett that earned a free kick in a dangerous position in the 19th minute. 

Scott Arfield, who was likely Canada's best player during the camp, took the free kick and found the head of David Edgar in the middle of the Uzbekistan box. The Canadian captain headed the ball home to give Canada an early 1-0 lead. It was Edgar's third goal for the national team.

Edgar then appeared to have won a penalty when he was knocked down in the box in the 27th minute after another Arfield free kick. It would not be called, however, as the two benches could audibly be heard debating whether or not it was a penalty.

Canada headed into the halftime break the deserving 1-0 leaders after a first half that had few chances for both sides, but especially for Uzbekistan who Canada was able to contain well.

The Canadians started the second half on the front foot, putting some early pressure on the Uzbek backline. However, it would be Uzbekistan who found a breakthrough at the other end in the 62nd minute.

A cross into the Canadian box was not properly dealt with before falling to a wide open Shomurodov at the back post who finished off the chance. It was the product of poor defending from the Canadian team who allowed two uncontested shots in their box.

But after allowing Azerbaijan to come from behind and earn a draw last week, the Canadian team was not willing to do the same this time around. They continued to press the ball forward and 20 minutes later would regain the lead, this time for good.

Samuel Piette played in Hoilett on the left flank and the QPR winger played a dangerous cross into the Uzbekistan area. It was looking for a Canadian player at the back post, but instead, it found the head of Komilov who redirected the ball into his own net.

For Canada, it was the culmination of a successful camp in which they were able to build a solid team shape, and earn some decent results, without a couple of crucial players. Both Will Johnson and Atiba Hutchinson were injured and did not play, while Cyle Larin was sick and therefore not risked in either match.

However, Canada was still able to put together some good passes and possession in the midfield. Arfield was especially important in this regard, as the Burnley midfielder was crucial to the Canadian attack in both this match and the Azerbaijan match.

The good news for Canada is that if they can repeat these results in September they will almost certainly be going to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying for the first time since 1998. These results will give the team a degree of confidence going into those all important games.