And so, the journey continues.
The Canadian men’s national team is back in action for the first time since November as the road to Qatar begins to intensify.
Firstly, it is worth noting that Canada can indeed qualify for the 2022 World Cup during THIS WINDOW if:
- Canada wins all three of their games AND,
- Mexico or Panama lose all three of their games AND,
- Jamaica, Costa Rica and El Salvador all finish the window with less than 14 points.
Having recorded 16 points from a possible 24 thus far, Les Rouges are sitting pretty ahead of an away day in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Kickoff is set for 8:05 pm EST on Thursday, January 27th, with the game available to stream on both OneSoccer and Sportsnet.
Despite Honduras being rooted to the bottom of the table, a game in Central America is always going to be a daunting task for any side, even the high-flying CanMNT. Moreover, hostile crowds coupled with an electric atmosphere at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano will serve as quite the test for John Herdman’s men.
After eight matches, Honduras has tallied three points from three draws. Their winless record leaves them 11 points behind Panama in fourth, and with just six games left to play including Thursday’s clash, Los Catrachos’ World Cup hopes are hanging by the thinnest thread.
The story is much different for Canada, with qualification to Qatar in their own hands now. Still without a loss, Herdman and co. will look to build off of their most recent window, which included that unforgettable 2-1 win against Mexico in Edmonton.
A brace from Cyle Larin ensured Canada beat El Tri for the first time in 21 years, a game that undoubtedly goes down as one of the greatest results in the program’s history.
The Beşiktaş forward’s two goals at the “Iceteca” were his 10th and 11th goals in the entirety of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, and his third and fourth of the Octagonal.
Currently on a three-game win streak (Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico), Les Rouges have all eyes on extending that to four when they face Honduras, even in the absence of talisman Alphonso Davies.
The 21-year-old is not with the squad and is recovering from a “mild” case of myocarditis. Nonetheless, 25 of his compatriots will have nothing but victory on their minds for the rest of the window.
In terms of team news for Thursday’s game, Stephen Eustáquio, who is one yellow card away from a suspension, is considered day-to-day as he awaits medical clearance to arrive in North America. Further on the yellow card accumulation front, Richie Laryea, Steven Vitória, Doneil Henry, Sam Adekugbe, Mark-Anthony Kaye and Samuel Piette are also one booking away from receiving a one-match ban. Should any of them be shown a yellow against Honduras, they will be suspended for Canada’s clash with the USA at Tim Hortons Field on January 30th.
On the opposing side, MLS viewers will be familiar with a few of the names in Honduras’ squad, including CF Montreal’s Romell Quioto, who will go up against three of his club teammates, and Bryan Acosta, who recently signed for the Colorado Rapids from FC Dallas.
Another noteworthy name in Honduras’ ranks is their captain, Maynor Figueroa. The FA Cup winning defender is currently a free agent after leaving the Houston Dynamo at the end of the 2021 MLS campaign.
The two nations’ last encounter ended in a 1-1 draw during matchday one of the Octagonal, as Larin’s penalty in the 65th minute canceled out Alexander López’s first half spot kick.
Les Rouges’ last victory over their CONCACAF rivals came in 2015 (1-0) during the fourth round of 2018 World Cup Qualifying.
From that 1-0 win in Vancouver, six players from the current 25-man group were in the matchday squad that day: Milan Borjan, Atiba Hutchinson, Junior Hoilett, Cyle Larin, Sam Adekugbe and Samuel Piette.
When playing in Honduras, Canada has only won once, a victory which dates back to 1985. A lone goal from George Pakos helped Les Rouges to a 1-0 1986 World Cup Qualifying triumph at the Estadio Tiburcio Carías Andino in Tegucigalpa. As we all know, Canada went on to qualify for the 1986 World Cup in Mexico after finishing ahead of Honduras in the final round of qualifying.
Is history set to repeat itself in 2022? Stay tuned…
Honduras: López; D. Rodríguez, Maldonado, Figueroa, Elvir; Elis, Acosta, Mejía, Arriaga, Moya; Quioto
Canada: Borjan; Johnston, Vitória, Miller; Laryea, Hutchinson, Kaye, Osorio, Buchanan; Ugbo, David