TORONTO, Canada—The Canadian U23 squad is back in action Thursday night in what is shaping up to be a special day for Canada Soccer.
Immediately following the senior men’s team’s World Cup Qualifier, Tajon Buchanan and Canada will take on Honduras in their Group B finale for a spot in the final four and a chance to play for their place at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Kickoff is set for 10 pm ET on OneSoccer.
After dropping points to Haiti last time out in a disappointing 0-0 draw, Canada’s men will need to put in their best performance of the tournament to date if they want a shot at ending their Olympic-less streak. The last time the Canadian men qualified for the Olympic Games was back in 1984.
All four nations in Canada’s group still have a chance to advance to the semifinals.
El Salvador (one point, -2 goals difference) and Haiti (one point, -3 goals difference) kick off first followed by Canada (four points, +2 goals difference) against rivals Honduras (four points, +3 goals difference).
Simply put, Canada need a win or a draw against Honduras to ensure they control their own destiny and advance to the Concacaf semifinals. The real prize, however, will be finishing atop Group B as the winner of Honduras/Canada will take on the United States for a spot in the Olympic Games, while the runner-up will be pitted against Mexico.
Here’s what we can expect from Honduras (via Charlie O’Connor Clarke - CanPL)
This has always been circled as the most difficult test for Canada at this tournament. The Hondurans were runners-up four years ago at the previous Olympic qualifiers (and they finished fourth at the actual Olympic tournament), and they’ve always posed a stiff challenge to Canada, whether at the youth or senior level. This year, they have a number of experienced professional players in the squad, including a couple with caps for the Honduras senior national team. Forward Darixon Vuelto, who scored twice against Haiti, has over 100 pro games in his home country, and Douglas Martínez has been solid for MLS side Real Salt Lake recently. This team has plenty of firepower and most of their players will have better match fitness than the Canadians, so expect them to try and wear their opponents down with a fast-paced style.
While Canada has struggled to score—and ultimately create chances outside of Buchanan—the team has done well defensively, as they’ve yet to concede through their first 180 minutes of action.
It’s crucial for Canada to maintain their strong defensive form against Honduras, who will undoubtedly be the best side Canada has yet faced in Guadalajara.
HOW TO WATCH
When: 10 pm ET
Where: Guadalajara, Mexico