PREVIEW – The CanMNT are kicking off their 2023 Gold Cup pursuits with an opening match against CONCACAF minnows Guadeloupe. With a squad filled with rotation, this competition will be a great test to see how good Canada’s depth truly is, starting out with a deceptive test against a Guadeloupe side that has surprised many on their route to the Gold Cup. Complacency will be the key thing to avoid for Canada, as they look to start as they mean to go on.
CanMNT’s Opening Game vs Guadeloupe Match Prediction
CanMNT’s Current Run of Form
The Canadian Men’s National Team has been in mixed form since their unprecedented World Cup qualification run where they finished first in the table for Concacaf at the beginning of 2022. Since then, in competitive fixtures, they lost all three of their matches at the World Cup, although two of those matches were against the future World Cup semi-finalists. They then went on a good run of games in the Concacaf Nations League, beating Curacao 2-0 and Honduras 4-1 in the March window of 2023, before going to the Nations League Finals earlier this month.
In the Finals, they swept past Panama in the semi-finals with a 2-0 victory before falling to the US in a dismal 2-0 defeat in the final. CanMNT Head Coach John Herdman, with a fresh group of players, will hope to banish past demons and try to exact some sweet redemption in this competition, beginning with this match against Guadeloupe.
John Herdman’s Vegas gambles failed to pay off on Sunday night 🎲
— Canadian Soccer Daily (@CANSoccerDaily) June 19, 2023
Guadeloupe’s Current Run of Form
The Gwada Boys have surpassed initial expectations once again, as they qualified for their fifth Gold Cup in their history, and their third-ever time qualifying for back-to-back tournaments. They began their journey in Nation’s League B, after promoting from Nations League C, facing off against Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Cuba. They missed out on automatic qualification to Cuba, who topped the table with a 5-0-1 record, but still managed to go to the Gold Cup prelims by finishing second with a 3-0-3 record.
In the first round of the prelims, they breezed past Antigua and Barbuda in a 5-0 dominant victory, exacting revenge after losing to them twice in their Nations League group. They then upset a heavy favourite in the second round by beating Guyana 2-0 thanks to an own goal from Guyanan defender Liam Gordon, and a goal from Torino defender Andrew Gravillon. They will now look to try to emulate their surprise successes in the Gold Cups of the late 2000s and get past the group stage.
They advanced after beating Guyana 2-0 in Miami, a massive result for nation with a population under 400,000 people
— Thomas Hewitt (@ThomasHewitt22) June 21, 2023
These two teams have only ever played each other two times before, once in another Gold Cup group stage match in 2011. That game ended in a 1-0 victory for the Canadians as a lone Dwayne De Rosario penalty goal in the 51-minute secured the victory for the Canucks. However, unfortunately for both teams, neither of them qualified past the group stage. The CanMNT lost against the US 2-0 in their opening match, before beating Guadeloupe to give them hope of qualification.
But in the end, they could only manage a draw against Panama, who already had two victories before the last match, and thus crashed out of the competition in third place. Guadeloupe finished last in the group with 0 points and a -3 goal difference. They also faced each other in the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup, where Canada lost to Guadeloupe 2-1. Both teams made it far in the 2007 Concacaf Gold Cup, as they were both eliminated in the semi-finals stage of the competition.
On paper, this seems like a relatively easy opening match for Canada. It definitely is their easiest match-up according to the Concacaf rankings, but, as the old saying goes, the game is played on grass and not paper. The CanMNT have had a huge turnover in personnel, as many of their stars like Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan and Cyle Larin are not rostered for the competition, giving them a deserved rest after a long season. Even squad staples like Stephen Eustaquio and Sam Adekugbe have been withdrawn from the roster, meaning fewer experienced heads in the dressing room.
While this provides a fantastic opportunity for many young and fringe players to make their mark, it also means that the expectations for this team are up in the air. Nevertheless, Canada should have enough quality to make a decent run in the competition and, with the home crowd advantage, should come away with a comfortable 2-0 victory over the Gwada Boys, despite the heroics from them in the prelims.
Roster Update 🔁
— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) June 26, 2023
Photo Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports, of a Liam Fraser Headshot, on July 18, 2021.