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Canada vs. Iceland—Match preview and how to watch

Canada’s slim Hex hopes hang in the balance Wednesday night

Canada men’s national team and Toronto FC midfielder Liam Fraser
(Tagwa Moyo/Waking the Red)

TORONTO, Ont.— With consecutive 4-1 victories over Barbados, Canada has gotten off on the right foot in 2020.

While the pair of friendlies gave Head Coach John Herdman a great opportunity to give some young players a look on the senior scene, the reward in the qualification process was minuscule.

However, Canada concludes it’s California camp on Wednesday with a friendly against FIFA’s 39th ranked nation in Iceland. Thanks to the country’s relatively high ranking, this game should present a bigger challenge for the Canadians, while the ranking points up for grabs will be similarly elevated this time around.

For Canada, the player pool remains the same as the previous two matches, with some notable absentees.

Luckily, Iceland find themselves in a similar situation with many of their key players not available as the majority of the big European leagues are in the midst of a busy window.

The match, however, will certainly have plenty of incentive to the Nordic nation as Iceland remain in contention for this summer’s Euro 2020 tournament. With a March 26 playoff fixture against Romania looming, Iceland will be looking to assess which players among those selected will join the first team which suits up come March.

Among the 23 players named to Canada’s squad for this trio of friendlies, only backup Goalkeepers James Pantemis and Marco Carducci have yet to feature this week. While Herdman has done a great job rotating his team, expectations are that the starting XI against Iceland reflects the best side available at this time.

Canada has met Iceland on just three occasions in the past, all of which were friendlies. Most recently, the two met roughly five years ago in January of 2015, playing to a 1-1 draw. Despite a weakened Icelandic outfit, this match should be the toughest of the three for the Canadians in the last ten days.

Through two matches, the plan has been executed to a T for Canada. Get some new players meaningful minutes for the senior team while picking up FIFA ranking points in the process (albeit very few).

Expectations coming into California would’ve been beating Barbados twice. The true test comes in a more formidable opponent in Iceland. A loss on Wednesday would likely put an end to any hope of Canada passing El Salvador before June. If they can make it three wins in three, the Hex hopes live to see another day.

Additional Notes:

  • FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic became both the first active Canadian Premier League player to start in a match for Canada as well as the first CPL player to score a goal for the Canadians with his headed finish in the 4-1 victory over Barbados on Friday.
  • Canada last faced a UEFA side when they drew Scotland 1-1 in a friendly in Edinburgh back in March 22nd, 2017.
  • Tosaint Ricketts can move into a tie for third place for all-time goals scored for Canada with a goal against Iceland.

How to Watch:

Wednesday’s match will be streamed by Canada Soccer on their website. You can also follow along for updates throughout the match on Twitter @WakingtheRed

Kickoff for Wednesday’s match is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.