Canada Soccer announced the roster on Tuesday, delaying the announcement until all players can arrive at camp and comply with COVID-19 protocols. The games, which will both be held in Florida due to pandemic travel restrictions, mark the often-delayed start of World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region.
Gathering the list from all over the world given the current conditions was not easy.
“What a mission to get this list in, what a mission,” coach John Herdman said with a sigh. “It was crazy. ”
Herdman said players’ participation in the camp involved dealing with national federations and clubs, Canadian and US Olympic committees, Major League Soccer and embassies around the world. Davies, for his part, was traveling to Germany to help get his own visa, he added.
“I tip my hat to these guys,” Herdman said at a virtual press conference. “They have families at home who are probably questioning their decisions to come halfway around the world at this point in their careers.
“It says a lot about, number one, the fellowship and what they’ve created here and wanting to be a part of something. And, second, how seriously they take this World Cup qualifying campaign. Such great respect. ”
The Canadians, ranked 73rd in the world, will start Thursday against No.169 Bermuda in Orlando before facing the No.193 Cayman Islands on Sunday in Bradenton in the first round of Group B. They will have to play at least 18 more games. they want to travel to Qatar 2022.
The Canadian men haven’t played a competitive game since Nov. 15, 2109, when they lost 4-1 to the United States in the CONCACAF Nations League game. The only games since then have been three friendlies – two against Barbados and one against Iceland – in January 2020.
Ten of the current 24 players are 24 or younger, including Davies, 20. There are two teenagers in Theo Corbeanu and Jayden Nelson, both 18 years old.
The squad has 343 caps combined with Atiba Hutchinson (84), Milan Borjan (49), Samuel Piette (49), Cyle Larin (31) and Junior Hoilett (27) representing 240 of them. Davies has 17 caps.
Seven players – Corbeanu (Woverhampton Wanderers), Ricardo Ferreira (alone), Dayne St. Clair (Minnesota United, Frank Sturing (FC Den Bosch), Joel Waterman (CF Montreal), Alistair Johnston (Nashville SC) and Cristian Gutierrez (Vancouver Whitecaps )) – are not capped.
Seven others have single-digit caps.
“The goal is always to pick the best players – the top players, the fit players, and then look at some of the prospects as well,” Herdman said when asked about the youth roster.
“It’s a young team and that’s where we are… There is a lack of experience here,” he added in an interview. “I mean it’s normal and there are things we’re going to have to learn together. But at the same time we have some really experienced guys at Atiba Hutchinson and Junior Hoilett and Milan Borjan. These guys, that sprinkling of veterans. gives us that wise head and, I think, a real core of strong leadership. ”
He cited Corbeanu as an example of youth. The 18-year-old winger, who also holds Romanian nationality, played at the Under-23 level for England Wolves but dressed for the first team.
“He has a bright future,” Herdman said. “And if being a part of the national team can help that future come a little earlier in terms of getting into the first team at Wolves, then hopefully gaining game time in this Canadian team will send a clear message on where we think it is. . ”
There are 11 MLS players including three from the Vancouver Whitecaps, three from CF Montreal and two from Toronto FC.
Lille striker Jonathan David was not available following the choice of French Ligue 1 clubs not to release foreign players summoned for international missions outside the European Union due to COVID-19 quarantine rules .
France currently requires anyone entering the country to be quarantined for seven days. FIFA has allowed clubs to keep their players if they are faced with a quarantine of more than five days.
Herdman said David was “absolutely drained” of having to miss Canada’s games. But with Lille set to face Paris Saint-Germain in a high-end clash on April 3, David’s club were unwilling to break the rules.
In contrast, Valerenga Fotball allowed defender Samuel Adekugbe to come as Norway also had a seven-day quarantine. Their decision was easier given that Norway’s start of the season has been pushed back to May due to the pandemic.
On the bright side, fans may well be lucky enough to see Davies, who starts at left-back for Bayern, return to a more attacking role.
“Coming into these games I think he could be a real threat in the offensive line,” Herdman said. “We’re going to take it game by game. ”
Herdman said veteran midfielder Scott Arfield was not in the roster because he wanted to focus on his family and his club season with the Scottish Rangers.
Hope we see Scott again. He just needed this time to really commit to the club level given the number of trips he had made in the previous two or three years with the national team with the national team – two medals Golden. Cups and showing up at every Nations League (match), ”Herdman said.
Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio was forced to retire after sustaining a minor injury in his final training session before leaving for camp for Canada. He was replaced by Nelson.
The game against Bermuda is officially a home game for Canada, but will be played at Exploria Stadium in Orlando. The Cayman Islands chose to transfer Sunday’s game to IMG Academy in Bradenton for the same reason.
Both matches will be played in empty stadiums. Canada’s next games will be June 5 at 200 Aruba and June 8, officially at home, at 141st Suriname.
Bermuda moved their home game Sunday against Aruba to Bradenton, where Bermuda hosted a camp earlier in the month.
There are six first round groups and only the group winners advance. The best team in Group B will face the winner of Group E (consisting of No.84 Haiti, No.149 Nicaragua, No.170 Belize, No.175 Saint Lucia and 203rd from Turks and Caicos) in a home-and-series in June.
The three teams that survive the first two qualifying rounds advance to the region’s final round, joining Mexico (No.9), USA (No.22), Jamaica (No.47), Costa Rica ( n ° 50) and Honduras (n ° 64). The eight teams of what is known as the Octagon will face each other at home and away, with each country playing 14 matches from September 2021 to March 2022.
The top three teams from the final round will automatically qualify for Qatar 2022. The fourth team will participate in an intercontinental playoff to see who will join them.
The Canadian men, who co-host the 2026 World Cup with Mexico and the United States, have only qualified for one World Cup – 1986 in Mexico where they came out after failing to score losses against the France, Hungary and the Soviet Union.
List of Canada
Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, red star from Belgrade (Serbia); Maxime Crepeau, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Dayne St. Clair, Minnesota United (MLS).
Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe, Valerenga Fotball (Norway); Ricardo Ferreira (alone); Cristian Gutierrez, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alistair Johnston, Nashville SC (MLS); Richie Laryea, Toronto FC (MLS); Kamal Miller, CF Montreal (MLS); Frank Sturing, FC Den Bosch (Netherlands); Steven Vitoria, Moreirense FC (Portugal); Joel Waterman, CF Montreal (MLS)
Midfielders: Theo Corbeanu, Wolverhampton Wanderers (England); Stephen Eustaquio, FC Pacos de Ferreira (Portugal); Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas JK (Turkey); Mark-Anthony Kaye, Los Angeles FC (MLS); Jayden Nelson, Toronto FC (MLS); Samuel Piette, CF Montreal (MLS); David Wotherspoon, St. Johnstone (Scotland).
Forwards: Lucas Cavallini, Vancouver Whitecaps (MLS); Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich (Germany); David (Junior) Hoilett, Cardiff City (Wales); Cyle Larin, Besiktas JK (Turkey); Liam Millar, Charlton Athletic (England).
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 23, 2021