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Match Preview: Canadian MNT kick-off Gold Cup campaign on Sunday

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Strong Canadian side hope to life first Gold Cup since 2000

Haiti v Canada: Quarterfinals - 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup
The Canadian men’s team kick-off their 2021 Gold Cup campaign on Sunday.
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

TORONTO, Canada - Fresh off of a berth to the final stage of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, the Canadian Men’s National Team is back together hoping to go on a deep run in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup tournament.

It starts with a matchup against Martinique on Sunday evening at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City. Kick-off is scheduled for 6:30 PM EST and can be streamed on OneSoccer.

Canadian Head Coach John Herdman has signalled his interest in wanting to win the Gold Cup by naming a strong squad for this tournament, despite Alphonso Davies having to withdraw from the squad on the eve of the tournament due to an ankle injury. Beyond a deep run at this Gold Cup, Herdman is also looking ahead at how the experience of this tournament can help this squad as it prepares for the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers.

When Herdman named his final squad for the tournament, he explained the logic behind his squad choice.

“The Concacaf Gold Cup allows Canada to keep building on the momentum from the last six matches in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” explained Herdman. “We’ve missed the opportunity to play some of these big matches that come at a Concacaf Gold Cup, so every match counts to create that spirit and cohesion required to take this country to the next level. We need this dynamic group of players to keep growing and learning together and the Concacaf Gold Cup provides great experience to prepare us for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.”

As Canadian fans have experienced, the men’s national team program has seen more success in the last few years and that has translated to a better showing at the Gold Cup. In the last two Gold Cups, Canada has made it out of the group stage and into the quarter-finals before being eliminated, and it marked the first time in a decade that Canada advanced past the group stage in back-to-back tournaments. A quarter-final berth with this squad will be the bare minimum now.

Martinique is not a new opponent for the Canadians. The two faced off in the group stage at the 2019 Gold Cup with Les Rouges walking away with a 4-0 victory. On that day, Jonathan David scored twice, and Junior Hoillet and Scott Arfield joined David on the scoresheet. While some of the players who featured in that win aren’t at this year’s tournament, many key contributing members of the squad are and have taken big steps in their development. Their experience with their club teams, and at previous Canadian team camps will be a positive experience to lean on throughout the tournament.

The 2021 Gold Cup will mark Martinique’s seventh appearance in the tournament and their third straight appearance. Their best result came back in 2002 when Les Matinino reached the quarterfinal before losing in a shootout to Canada.

This will be Martinique’s first competitive fixture since the 2019 Concacaf Nations league when Martinique and Honduras played to a 1-1 draw. Les Matinino will be led by captain Sébestien Creétinoir and their most capped player, midfielder Daniel Hérelle to challenge this Candian team. Apart from the veteran leadership, Martinique will also rely on full-back Patrick Burner who currently plays for Ligue 2 club Nîmes Olympique in France. With 23-year old striker Mickäel Biron unavailable for this tournament, Martinique are missing a key piece of their offence and will need to look at others for their goal scoring needs.

Canada will be looking for a strong start on Sunday evening to help set the tone for the rest of their tournament. John Herdman has never shied away from setting big expectations for his team, and this tournament is no different.

How to watch:

Opponent: Martinique
Kick-off: 6:30 PM EST
Location: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City
Stream: OneSoccer