Canada is off to the second round of World Cup qualifying after a dominant 4-0 victory over Suriname. They will now face Haiti in a two-legged playoff starting on Saturday with a chance to reach the final round of Concacaf qualifying for the first time since 1998.
Jonathan David recorded a hat-trick and now has 15 goals in 14 matches with the national team to move up into seventh all-time, tied with Ali Gerba. Alphonso Davies opened the scoring and set up two of David’s goals.
Here are some thoughts on the win, and what it means for Canada.
Davies and David Forever
Canada’s two biggest talents shone brightest in this critical game for the national team. After a first half with some shaky moments, Davies’ opener calmed Canada and was truly an excellent finish as he continues to make the case that he is the region’s best player. While Davies was technically deployed as a wingback, the role allowed him plenty of freedom going forward and to cut into the midfield when he felt the need. That role suited him perfectly and allowed him to be central to the team’s dominant second half.
On the finishing end of everything Davies did was David. The Lille striker was lethal as always, converting two chances from open play before a well-placed penalty completed his hattrick. Suriname had no answer for his movement and clinical finishing ability in the match. Canadian men’s national team fans will be looking forward to another decade or more of this dynamic duo to come.
A shaky start for Canada
This was undoubtedly a big game for the Canadian men’s national team and they definitely looked a little bit nervous about that fact in the early going. Suriname had the first real chance of the match, ringing the ball off the bar and forcing several dangerous set pieces in the early going.
But unlike the past, even the recent past, Canada did not cave to the pressure. Once they opened the scoring in the 37th minute they took over the game and did not look back. In fact, even towards the end of the match, they remained relentless looking for more opportunities. It was a refreshing sight for a Canada team that has just looked to see out leads in past matches.
A solid debut for Scott Kennedy
When Canada did have some shaky moments at the back, Scott Kennedy was more often than not there to clean up any issues. Making his debut with the national team, the 2. Bundesliga centreback definitely showed himself to be a clear option for Herdman going forward with his passing ability and clever tackling.
Canada only conceded once in the entire round. This is evidently largely a byproduct of the opponents that they faced, but also a credit to the team’s defensive structure as a whole through the round. It is a mentality that they will have to carry forward if they are to continue to have success in future rounds.
A confidence builder heading into a big matchup with Haiti
The rematch awaits. It was Haiti who shocked John Herdman’s Canada at the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup, coming from behind to beat them 3-2 in the quarterfinal stage. Canada will now get another chance to face Haiti in a two-legged playoff starting Saturday for a chance to reach the final round of qualifying.
Once again, these matches may well end up being played at a neutral venue after Belize’s national team was robbed at gunpoint on their away trip to Haiti. In a lot of ways, it is disappointing that Canada might not get to experience a proper Concacaf away date as part of this second round either. Those will be the true tests for this group, although wherever they do play Haiti it will hardly be an easy matchup.