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Recap: Canada, Bahrain play out stalemate in friendly affair

Les Rouges’ MLS contingent came from behind to salvage a draw in Isa Town.

Photo by Guillermo Legaria/Getty Images

It was far from a memorable result for Canada’s MLS contingent as Les Rouges and Bahrain played out a 2-2 draw at Khalifa Sports City Stadium in Isa Town.

In spite of the final score, this game ensured John Herdman’s group of MLS players earned invaluable minutes ahead of the tournament in Qatar.

The likes of Mark-Anthony Kaye and Lucas Cavallini had not seen competitive action since MLS Decision Day, so Herdman and his staff would have been pleased to see them to start and play the majority of the match.

The return of Jonathan Osorio was arguably the biggest positive on the day, as Toronto FC’s all-time leader in appearances played the full 90 minutes in his first competitive match since TFC’s 4-0 defeat to Orlando City SC on September 17th.

While Osorio was welcomed back to the national team fold with open arms, Doneil Henry was forced to withdraw from the starting lineup after picking up an injury during warmups. CF Montreal’s Joel Waterman took his place in XI for his highly anticipated international debut.

From the off, Canada hit the ground running, and the visitors were rewarded with the game’s opening goal after just six minutes of play. Ismaël Koné connected with a long ball from Kamal Miller, and the 20-year-old made absolutely no mistake in front of goal.

Having now opened his international account, Koné’s thrilling rise continues to turn heads across the footballing world.

Eight minutes later though, Mahdi Al-Humaidan took advantage of some lacklustre Canadian defending to fire home the equalizer for the hosts.

From there, the game began to lose its intensity, with both sides lacking the quality to produce opportunities in the final third. The state of the pitch and the humidity proved an evident factor as to why Canada was unable to put the game beyond their opponent’s reach.

A sluggish first half was not unexpected given the fact that several players had not featured in a competitive outing in almost a month.

The same XI came out for the second half looking to re-establish their lead, but it was Bahrain who would go 2-1 up in the 65th minute. Alistair Johnston brought down Mohamed Marhoon in the box before Abdulla Yusuf Helal cooly converted his spot-kick.

With Canada now chasing the game, Miller was substituted in the 71st minute after picking up an apparent knock. Canadians will now be holding their breath regarding the extent of the injury.

The Scarborough-born defender was then replaced by Lukas MacNaughton for the 27-year-old’s senior international debut. From the University of Toronto to the Canadian men’s national team, it has been quite the journey for the former Pacific FC star.

Canada found their equalizer in the 81st minute via an own goal. Zachary Brault-Guillard’s driven cross found its way towards Cavallini, yet Ali Haram was deemed to have the final touch before the ball crossed the line.

All in all, the result should not faze Canada ahead of its next friendly against fellow World Cup nation Japan. Herdman will have his final 26-man squad at his disposal to properly test the waters one week before Les Rouges face Belgium in their tournament opener.

For several of the 21-man group in Bahrain, this game was the final audition before Sunday’s announcement of the 26 players who will represent Canada at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.