TORONTO, Canada—Canada’s quest to qualify for its first Olympic Games since 1984 continues Monday evening when Mauro Biello’s side takes on Haiti at the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament down in Mexico.
“It’s all about the history,” Canada coach Biello told media on Sunday. “It’s all about the legacy that we leave behind. And that’s been laid out to this group, about what they have the opportunity to achieve here.
“The Olympics, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s more than an event, it’s a transformative experience. And I told the group that us as a group, us as a country, we have a shot at it.”
Canada U-23 team is coming off an impressive 2-0 win over El Salvador on Friday, where New England Revolution youngster Tajon Buchanan stole the show thanks to a first-half two-goal performance in his first-ever appearance for Canada—at any level.
The pacey 22-year-old Brampton, Ontario native and the rest of the Canadian squad will look to build off their strong start to the tournament against a Haiti team that will look much different than their first game—a 3-0 loss to Honduras.
Haiti started that match with just 10 men (and had an outfield player in goal) after a few members of their team arrived late for the tournament, which impacted their pregame COVID-19 testing. They were eventually able to bring in reinforcements into the match, including a goalkeeper, once the tests came back negative, but it wasn’t before they had already gone down by three.
As Biello points out, the Canadians are expecting to see a different Haiti side on Monday.
“We saw (Haiti) have some roster difficulties in their first game, and really didn’t get a good picture of what that team really looks like,” Biello told reporters leading up to Monday’s match. “We’re expecting a team now that’s going to fight—their tournament is on the line for them, so we need to match that type of intensity.”
With a win on Monday coupled with an El Salvador loss, Canada will automatically book their place in the semifinals, where they’ll take on one of the United States or Mexico for a spot at Tokyo 2020. U.S. and Mexico will battle it out of the top spot in Group A later this week, with the winner facing the second seed out of Group B.
Canada will close out the group stage of the tournament on Thursday against Honduras.
HOW TO WATCH
Who: Haiti vs. Canada
When: March 22, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Akron in Zapopan, Mexico