PREVIEW – The CanMNT octagonal World Cup qualifying will start on September 2 against Honduras. This will be the first time the CanMNT will participate in the final round of World Cup qualifying since 1997.
The CanMNT Octagonal World Cup Qualifying Starts on Thursday
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) August 30, 2021
The CanMNT looks quite strong. This is especially true with players like forward Lucas Cavallini and left-back and winger Alphonso Davies playing for the team. According to transfermarkt, CanMNT is the third most valuable team in all of Concacaf. Their market value is $179.99 million. This statistic does not necessarily mean Canada will qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. However, it shows the quality that they have. The quality of their players has been shown in the previous rounds of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying and in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
A lot of people consider Davies is currently the best player in Concacaf. He was the first-ever Concacaf player to make FIFA Best Men’s World XI last year. There is also forward Jonathan David, who currently plays for Lille OSC. He played a major role in Lille winning the Ligue1 title in France.
“As a coach and looking at how the team came together. It is hard to look past that group of men that did it for us you know that they took us here and some of them took us here and some of them took us to a semi-final of a gold cup.”
Seeing what the roster is, this is not a surprise. Canada’s player of the Gold Cup, F.C. Paços de Ferreira midfielder Stephen Eustáquio and also Reading player winger Junior Hoilett is part of the team. Winger Tajon Buchanan of the New England Revolution also made an impression in the Gold Cup.
There is also Eustáquio. Eustáquio was CanMNT’s best player in the Gold Cup. He played a major role in Canada eliminating Costa Rica from the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. Then, he also had a terrific free-kick goal against Martinique. He was the only Canadian to make the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Starting XI.
CanMNT: How they Fare against Other National Teams?
The last away win between the 8 CONCACAF WCQ Final Round teams. pic.twitter.com/LWmB08Oq5o
— Jaime F. Macias (@Jaimefmacias) August 31, 2021
Well, their recent history is not good. The one that CanMNT seems to have a favourable advantage against though in Costa Rica. This included eliminating them from the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. They also have a decent record against El Salvador, having a 2-1-2 record in the last four games. However, El Salvador won the last competitive match between the two teams in 2017.
However, when just looking at this century, it has been at least a bit one-sided with the other five teams in this group. Canada was eliminated by Jamaica in the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup. Yes, people will point out that Mexico lost to Canada in the 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup. However, in recent years, they have not played well against them. This includes the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle where Canada lost both games against Mexico.
Now, they played better in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup. They showed the ability to play toe-to-toe with the Mexicans, which was not the case in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle. They still lost, but CanMNT showed improvements.
This is similar to the USMNT. CanMNT shocked the world and defeated the U.S. in the Concacaf Nations League in 2019. This was their first win against the U.S. since 1985. They did, however, lose again in the Concacaf Nations League and in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
CanMNT: Panama and Honduras
The two teams that CanMNT may have the worst memories though are Panama and Honduras. In the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle, CanMNT finished higher than Panama. This included getting a win at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Then in the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup, CanMNT was a second away from advancing to the 2011 Concacaf Gold Cup semi-finals round. Dwayne De Rosario, CanMNT’s current all-time leading goal scorer, scored on a penalty in the 62-minute. A goal that could have sent CanMNT to the quarter-finals. However, Luis Tejada of Panama scored the game-tying goal in the 90+1-minute of play. This goal meant that the game was tied. More importantly, it meant that CanMNT was eliminated from the Gold Cup and Panama advanced to the quarter-finals stage.
Then there were absolute lows. Honduras had the better of Canada in the 21st century. An indication of this was in the 2009 Gold Cup quarterfinals. Honduras defeated Canada 2-0 and advanced to the semi-finals. They also were in the same group of qualifying for the 2014 and 2018 FIFA World Cup. Both times Honduras just got the better of Canada to qualify to the hexagonal stage of qualifying.
In fact, the worst loss came in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle. Canada was in Honduras and only needed a draw to get to the hexagonal. Canada ended up losing that game 8-1 and was eliminated from qualifying to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. This is what then CanMNT and now HFX Wanderers FC head coach Stephen Hart said about the game.
The last competitive match between both teams was a scoreless draw in the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup.
CanMNT Octagonal World Cup Qualifying Preview Overview
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) September 1, 2021
This is not going to be easy, especially against Mexico and USA. A lot of these teams do have experience playing in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying. Canada does not and it will play a factor. However, CanMNT’s roster is also filled with talent and should be a team to be reckoned by any Concacaf team.
Prediction: CanMNT finishes third in the Octagonal World Cup Qualifying stage
The top three teams make it to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This is while the fourth-placed team will play in an inter-continental two-leg tie against either an AFC (Asia) OFC (Oceania), or CONMEBOL (South America) team.
🥶The ball over the top from Eustaquio🥶The ball over the top from Junior!!! pic.twitter.com/t4WrmOAFZA
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) July 25, 2021
This may be the first time in the 21st century that CanMNT makes it to the final stage of Concacaf World Cup qualifying. However, it is also true that CanMNT possesses a talent that many Concacaf nations will envy. Davies, David, Larin, Hutchinson, and Eustaquio are four players that come to mind. That is also not including other players from this squad like Buchanan, Steven Vitória, and Milan Borjan.
Canada will start their World Cup qualifying campaign on September 2 against Honduras. The game will take place at 8:05 p.m. ET. They will also face El Salvador on September 8 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Both games will be shown on OneSoccer. Lastly, the September 5 game at 8:00 p.m. ET will take place at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. They will play USA and the game will be televised nationally on TSN.