TORONTO, Ont.—Following their disheartening defeat to the Americans back in November, Canada’s men’s national team has found themselves outside of the Hex ever since.
Although there does exist a path for qualifying to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for those Concacaf nations ranked seventh and lower in the region, it’s certainly a grueling one.
John Herdman and the Canadian staff clearly still believe the Hex is the best route for qualification as his side will play out the remaining two out three friendlies in the next five days in hopes of picking up ranking points to catch sixth-ranked El Salvador.
After a 4-1 victory in their opening meeting on Tuesday, Canada will once again take on Barbados, who currently sit 19th in the regional rankings. Canada will wrap up their January camp by taking on Iceland on January 15. All three games will take place in Irvine, California.
With the major European leagues in full swing and the level of competition considered, Herdman and co. have elected to give an opportunity to some fresh faces on the National scene. Some noteworthy first-time call-ups include reigning CPL MVP Tristan Borges, as well as a pair of Toronto FC youngsters in Jacob Shaffelburg and Reds academy standout Jayden Nelson. The full roster can be found here.
In fact, in their first match, several debuts were made — including the first-ever senior international start for Toronto FC’s Liam Fraser.
Prior to Tuesday’s encounter, Canada last met Barbados some sixteen years ago coming out on top 1-0 way back on January 18, 2004. Flash forward to modern-day and the fixture should be smoother sailing for the Canadians despite them fielding a younger, less experienced team than recent outings.
Prior to his team’s first contest of the new year, head coach John Herdman has liked the atmosphere in camp with plenty of guys looking to make a lasting first impression.
“You can sense there is a hunger and a desire here, and that’s what we were hoping for,” said Herdman, about the intensity his players have demonstrated in the early goings of camp.
2️⃣0️⃣2️⃣0️⃣— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) January 6, 2020
Into a new season, #CANMNT have opened camp in California ahead of a trio of international matches. It'll be a big year ahead with FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in the fall.
coach John Herdman. pic.twitter.com/LjMWe3KSXN
With June of 2020 the cutoff date for the final Hex standings before the qualifying process begins, Canada will need to pick up FIFA ranking points fast and furious. While friendlies offer a lower reward than competitive fixtures, it’s encouraging to see Canada haven’t accepted their place on the outside looking in at the Hex just yet.
If the squad selected is successful in their upcoming matches, it seems plausible that Canada could look to schedule even more friendlies between now and June in a last-ditch effort to overhaul El Salvador for the coveted sixth and final Hex spot.
As John Herdman stated at a recent training session, his side is heading into a World Cup qualifying process this year in either case. In the meantime, all Canadians can do is watch as the next generation of talent looks to find a way to bring their Nation back to the global stage for the first time since 1986.
- TFC III player Kaeson Trench is expected to be included in the Barbados squad. The 19-year-old made his senior national debut in a 3-0 loss to El Salvador in the Concacaf Nations League back in October 2018
- Although three CPL players have been previously selected to the squad, none have yet to feature on the field. With three CPL players named to the current squad (Borges, Carducci, Didić) and three fixtures in quick succession, it’s likely one of the three will be the first active Canadian Premier League player to feature for Canada.
How to Watch:
Today’s match will be streamed by Canada Soccer. It does not appear that any of the friendlies will be streamed on OneSoccer or broadcasted on TV. You can stream the match here.
Kickoff for today’s match is at 7:30 p.m. EST.