Analysis: CanMNT Secure Important Win in Honduras

The CanMNT celebrates Honduras own goal at San Pedro Sula
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ANALYSIS – The CanMNT secure important win took another huge step to punching their tickets to the World Cup. Despite missing two crucial players in Alphonso Davies and Stephen Eustáquio, it didn’t stop Canada one bit. Les Rouges went into San Pedro Sula and took home a 2-0 win against the bottom of the table Honduras.

Analysis: CanMNT Secure Important Win in Honduras

This result keeps Canada atop the table in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying. Canada is still undefeated through nine matches and is up by five points on fourth place Panama for automatic qualification. Things have gone according to plan for John Herdman’s team, and now qualification to Qatar seems to be very probable.

Campaign to Forget for Honduras

For Honduras, their nightmare qualifying campaign continues. Despite having more possession and playing at home, it was an all too familiar story in another loss. Winless through nine matches, and losers of five straight, it is safe to assume Honduras won’t qualify for Qatar.

Nightmare Start for the Hosts

The Canadians did not start off all that sharp, but they did not need to be. Because the Honduran hosts had a nice welcoming gift for their opponents. In the ninth minute, Club Brugge Midfielder Tajon Buchanan found himself in a 1v1 with Honduran left-back Diego Rodriguez. Buchanan loves to use his speed and dribbling to set up opportunities and that is exactly what he did.

Buchanan took the ball to the end line and put a teasing ball into the middle. Inexperienced Honduran defender Denil Maldonado panicked, and his clearing attempt ended up in the back of his own net. Canada is good enough of a goal-scoring team on their own, never mind when their opponents do the honours for them. Minus Davies and Eustáquio, it was brilliant for the visitors to get an early goal to ease the nerves.

Early Goal Changes Complexion of Match

This error allowed Canada to sit back on an early lead and force Honduras to attack. Herdman’s Canada was content to sit back and defend whatever Honduras would throw at them, and then try to hit them back on the counter. This was apparent in the final match stats, as Honduras finished with 59% possession and an 80% pass completion ratio.

Canada Played a Direct Brand of Football

Canada did create a few threatening first-half counterattacks, but credit the Honduran backline for transitioning well. On the other hand, Les Rouges really struggled to create many chances from extended possession of the ball. Their passing completion rate of 69 percent reflected the direct style of football they played. Keeper Milan Borjan specifically had problems distributing the ball from goal kicks. Although he more than made up for it with his shot-stopping later on.

Picture Perfect First Half for Canada

Things were shaping up to be a perfect road game for Canada after the first half. They scored an early goal in a tough environment that took the crowd out of it. They sat back and defended well and didn’t give Honduras much. On top of it all, it looked like Canada had something brewing on the counterattacks.

Milan Borjan Comes to Rescue in Second Half

However, in the second half, Honduras came on strong and started to create some scoring opportunities. Canada defended well, but with the amount of time, Honduras had the ball they were bound to create something. Milan Borjan stepped up to the plate and delivered multiple key saves. Specifically, in the 70-minute, the Hondurans had their best opportunity of the game, from a set-piece. Kervin Arriaga rose up above all and launched a powerful header across Borjan’s body. Incredibly, Borjan sprung to his left and made a desperate reactionary save on the line to preserve the Canadian lead.

 

World Class Counter Attack

After those nervy moments of defending, the Canadian counterattack finally struck gold. Moments after a world-class stop on one end, the Canadians had a beautifully executed goal at the other. First, Liam Fraser delivers a difficult chipped through ball about forty yards ahead of him. Then, Lille’s Jonathan David not only expertly controls the pass but has the composure to chip the Honduras keeper Lopes and seal the win for Canada.

The CanMNT gets Revenge

Even though Canada struggled to create much offence, when capable of producing magic like that goal, it does not matter. It was another highlight-reel goal and one that essentially buried Honduras’ dreams of qualifying. After that horrendous 8-1 loss away at Honduras ended Canada’s 2014 World Cup bid, the revenge must feel so sweet for the Canadian players and staff.

Man of the Match Performance in Goal

After Max Crepeau had a solid October window, Milan Borjan has shut down any sense of a goalkeeping controversy. After his game-saving stop against Mexico in November, Borjan made two world-class saves in this match. Borjan played his heart out and is one of the veteran leaders of this team. His performance earned him man-of-the-match honours and is undoubtedly Canada’s number one keeper.

Another Veteran Shines

Atiba Hutchinson may not be human. Believe it or not, Hutchinson turns 39 years old in eleven days. You wouldn’t know it based on his play. The midfielder was so calm and collected all game, and made virtually zero mistakes. His presence in the midfield was so important given both the Eustáquio absence and the MLS guys out of season. Once again, he delivered for his country.

Scott Kennedy Impresses in Return to Team

After missing the last two windows due to injury, CB Scott Kennedy transitioned very well back into the Canadian backline. He was rock solid for all eighty of his minutes and didn’t look like he missed a beat. Having him back for depth at left-footed Centre back is huge for Canada in this window and going forward.

 

Front Three Disappoints for Honduras

Anthony Lozano and Romell Quioto especially did not have good games. Despite providing many important goals for Honduras in the past, Canada’s defence really stifled these two in particular. Bordeaux’s Alberth Ellis was Honduras’ most threatening attacker but lacked the support to create anything too dangerous.

Up Next:

Honduras will host El Salvador on Sunday. If either team has serious hopes of qualifying, they absolutely must win that match and hope for lots of help. The Canucks, on the other hand, head to Milan Borjan’s home of Hamilton. They will host the U.S. in a match that could decide who take home the top spot in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying.

Photo Credit: Canada Soccer on January 27, 2022.