TORONTO, Canada—After yesterday’s match was postponed due to inadequate COVID-19 tests from the Cayman Islands, Alphonso Davies and the Canadian men’s national team are back in action Monday evening as they continue their 2022 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
“One game at a time—1 down, 19 to go to get to Qatar,” is how John Herdman summed up Thursday night’s performance. It was a business-like performance for the Canadians against Bermuda and Herdman will be hoping for more of the same in Sunday’s outing against the Cayman Islands.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6 pm EST on OneSoccer.
As expected, the Canadian head coach relied on many of the players who are currently in season in Europe. Those picks paid dividends for Herdman, and he will likely opt for a similar strategy in Sunday’s matchup.
A big advantage of relying on those in-season players was fully evident against Bermuda. Alphonso Davies, Cyle Larin, were as advertised and spear-headed the Canadians attack. Captain Atiba Hutchinson—who has returned to Turkey ahead of this one—and Stephen Eustàquio looked solid in the middle of the park breaking up plays and launching Canadian attacks.
While Thursday night showed what the team can do, Sunday’s matchup will be all about building on that and showing the same level of dominance. This mentality will likely push Herdman’s team selection to be very much the same once again on Sunday.
“All in all, a good night. But loads to build on,” said Herdman to reporters after Thursday night.
It would be understandable to take Cayman Islands, which is ranked 193rd in the world, lightly, but to have a shot at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, these will be important games to help build the squad’s confidence, chemistry, and provide Herdman and the coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate what is and isn’t working.
Toronto FC’s Richie Laryea and the Canadian squad are well aware of this and know the importance of each game.
“This is a very, very good team… It’s only going to get better, but we can’t settle for anything. This is just our first game. We’ve done well, but we gotta move on. We gotta put it past us,” Laryea said to reporters after the match.
While Canadian fans got a glimpse into how Davies can be used in Canada’s offence—and he will once again be the focal point for the team going forward—fans also got a glimpse into what 18-year-old Theo Corbeanu can do.
The youngster, who is from Hamilton and currently a part of the Wolverhampton Wanderers in England, scored a goal within minutes of coming on and looked lively in his brief stint. He has even managed to impress some of his teammates, like Samuel Piette.
Samuel Piette shares his early impressions of Theo Corbeanu— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) March 28, 2021
"When I first met him, I couldn't tell you if he was left -footed or right-footed ... I'm not even sure he knows, to be fair!"#CanMNT | #Wolves
⏰ Sun, Mar. 28 (4PM ET)
The Canadian head coach rates the youngster very highly as well, so it will be interesting to see how Herdman continues to use Corbeanu during the qualifying campaign. While it’s unlikely that Corbeanu will be handed a start on Sunday, it’s much more likely that he will get another chance to impress the Canadian coach and earn his next call up.
This will be Canada’s last game during this international window in what’s been a very positive camp for Herdman and his players. A repeat of Thursday night’s performance will have fans and players excited for when qualifiers continue this summer.
The match will be part of a Super Sunday for Canadian soccer. Following the senior team’s World Cup qualifying match, Canada’s U23 side will take on Mexico—with the winner booking their spot in the Olympics.
How to watch:
vs: Cayman Islands
Where: Bradenton, FL, USA
Kickoff: 6 pm EST