The road to Qatar continues as the Canadian men’s national team advanced to the Second Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying following a comprehensive win against Suriname on Tuesday. The Reds will now take on Haiti in a two-legged affair to determine who progresses to the final round.
As for the other two matchups, Saint Kitts and Nevis play El Salvador, and Panama face Curaçao. The winners of the three ties will join the USA, Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica and Jamaica as the final eight CONCACAF nations fighting to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
John Herdman’s men will be the visitors for the opening leg before heading back to Bridgeview, Illinois to “host” the return fixture. The first leg will kickoff at 5:00 p.m. EST at the Stade Sylvio Cator in Port-au-Prince, with the game available to stream on OneSoccer.
Canada’s 4-0 win over Suriname ensured that they topped Group B and booked their place in the Second Round. Herdman’s side finished the First Round with four wins from four, 27 goals scored and just one conceded. More goals have already been scored during this WCQ campaign than any other in the history of the national team.
Jonathan David’s hat-trick on Tuesday made him the third Canadian to have scored a treble during the First Round (Cyle Larin and Lucas Cavallini were the other two). The Ligue 1 title winner has now bagged 15 goals in a total of 14 games for Canada since his debut in 2018. At just 21 years of age, David is now eight goals away from becoming the Canadian national team’s all-time leading goalscorer, a title currently held by Dwayne De Rosario and his 22 international strikes.
David and Cavallini are now the only two Canadians in history to have scored more than one hat-trick for the national team. Both forwards, along with Larin and Alphonso Davies, finished the First Round with 18 combined goals, which accounts for ⅔ of the Reds’ total strikes in Group B. Canada’s ruthlessness in front of goal will be vital moving forward as the push for a first World Cup berth since 1986 gains momentum.
Like Canada, Haiti has only qualified for one World Cup, which came all the way back in 1974.
The Grenadiers finished the First Round of qualifying as one of two teams across all groups to have not conceded a single goal. A narrow 1-0 win over Nicaragua on Tuesday granted Haiti a place in the Second Round after both sides had come into the game level on six points. Haiti’s standout performance was undoubtedly their 10-0 rout of the Turks and Caicos Islands, where three different players scored hat-tricks.
One Haitian player Canadian Premier League fans may recognize is HFX Wanderers’ Jems Geffrard, who most recently came off the bench during Haiti’s victory against Nicaragua. Duckens Nazon, who plays his football in Belgium with Sint-Truiden, was Haiti’s top scorer in the First Round with four goals. The 27-year-old is also Haiti’s joint-second all-time top scorer with 23 goals in 44 national team games.
Herdman will be wary of the attacking threats that Haiti possess, especially given that this game is not only a World Cup Qualifier, but also a revenge mission.
As many still remember, Haiti knocked Canada out of the 2019 Gold Cup after a jaw-dropping comeback victory in the quarterfinals. The Reds were 2-0 up at halftime thanks to goals from David and Cavallini, but it all went wrong in the second half as three Haitian strikes stunned Canadian soccer fans as Canada bowed out of the tournament following a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat.
In the history of this matchup, Haiti’s 3-2 win was only the second time they had ever beaten Canada. In a total of nine matches dating back to 1973, Canada has won seven, drawn two and lost two.
The two nations have only met three times in the 21st century, with Canada’s last victory coming during the 2007 Gold Cup group stage, where a De Rosario brace helped the Reds to a comfortable 2-0 win.
The last time Canada played Haiti in a World Cup Qualifier was in 1985. Goals from Dale Mitchell and Igor Vrablic sealed a 2-0 win for Canada, which sent the Reds through to the Second Round of qualifying and then ultimately, the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
Could a narrative similar to that of Canada’s 1986 WCQ campaign be on the cards this year? John Herdman and Canadian soccer fans across the world will surely hope so, as this squad is arguably the best group of players that Canada has had at their disposal in years.
Ultimately, Davies and co. will need to put memories of the 2019 Gold Cup behind them and take care of business against Haiti if they are to move yet another step closer to Qatar.