Canada miss important pieces for World Cup qualifying showdown with Mexico
Canada will miss important pieces when they face Mexico at the historic Azteca Stadium in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying games on Thursday.
Coach John Herdman said veteran goalkeeper Milan Borjan, who is recovering from COVID, did not make the trip. Rather, the Belgrade Red Star keeper’s contribution was limited to a video message to the team.
“He’s pretty emotional,” Herdman said. “ It’s a great loss for us. Not just as a goalkeeper but his presence. He’s been amazing with this group during this campaign. ”
Captain Atiba Hutchinson and striker Cyle Larin (Besiktas, Turkey) are both back from injury and also out. Forward Lucas Cavallini continues his return-to-play protocols with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“We watch them every day. We are receiving good information that gives us hope – hope that they could join us in this (international) window, ”Herdman said.
Canada, on the rise in recent months, ranks 51st in the world, compared to 9th for Mexico.
After facing Jamaica’s No.59 in Kingston on Sunday, the Canadians return home to face Panama’s No.68 at BMO Field in Toronto next Wednesday.
Canada Soccer previously said veteran Junior striker Hoilett (Reading, England) and midfielder David Wotherspoon (St. Johnstone, Scotland) will meet the team in Jamaica ahead of the weekend’s game against the Reggae Boyz in order to ‘avoid the quarantine that visitors to Mexico must undergo upon their return to Britain.
Herdman, speaking to reporters virtually from Azteca Stadium on Wednesday night, said Minnesota United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was with the team.
In Borjan’s absence, Canada is expected to start Vancouver’s Maxime Crepeau in goal. Crepeau was impressive in Canada’s 2-1 Gold Cup semi-final loss to Mexico at the end of July, stopping one of the two shots on goal and making a wonderful save on Rodolfo Pizarro’s header in the additional time. Mexico ultimately won the game with a 99th-minute goal.
Herdman says he saw “that little bit of fear in the Mexican team” that day. And he expects a big setback on Thursday.
“We left a mark on them in that last game,” he said. “ And the good teams, the good players, the league teams, they are stepping up. We are therefore no longer a surprise. So what we are waiting for is a big response from the Mexican team. We have to be able to handle this. ”
“Then they will increase their intensity. And we have to bring our own if we are to achieve this result, ” he added.
Midfielder Jonathan Osorio, who played for Azteca with Toronto FC, is looking forward to the game.
“ We have a lot of confidence. We believe in this group a lot, ”he said. “We are not afraid of anyone. We believe we can beat anyone in this region. ”
Herdman said the keyword before the game is opportunity.
“ Our history at this stadium has not been great. And the Mexicans are the perennial CONCACAF champions, we know that, ”he said. “ So for us to come here is just a wonderful opportunity to take a step forward.
“ And that’s the message loud and clear. We got an important message across at the Gold Cup in Houston with 75,000 Mexicans cheering on their team. (Thursday) when we play, it won’t be a step back. We want to keep moving forward. This group of men are ready and, I think, really excited just to speak out in this Colosseum. ”
The Canadians never beat the Mexicans in Mexico.
Mexico (2-0-1) leads the so-called octagonal classification during the last round of qualifying in the region. Canada (1-0-2) is second on goal difference after beating El Salvador (65th) and equaling Honduras (63rd) and the Americans, ranked 13th.
The United States and Panama are also 1-0-2. Jamaica is last with a 0-2-1 record.
In March, after the remaining eight teams have each played 14 games, the top three in the round robin will represent North America, Central America and the Caribbean at Qatar 2022. The fourth-place team will compete in a intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.
Canadian men have not reached the final round of qualifying in the region since France ’98 preparations