On Friday at 5pm, the Canadian national soccer team will once again play in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Their opponents in this Friday's match will be the Central American nation of Honduras. The Canadians have a history of facing Honduras in the group stage of FIFA qualifying. Recently, Canada defeated Honduras by a score of 1-0 at BC Place in this years qualifying. However, 4 years ago, Honduras absolutely dominated Canada in Honduras by a humiliating score line of 8-1 (ouch!). Honduras qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil while the last (and only) time Canada qualified for a World Cup was the 1986 edition held in Mexico.
The FIFA World Cup qualifiers for North America, Central America and the Caribbean (CONCACAF) are played in a two tier system. First, in the group stage, 12 teams are divided into 3 groups of 4. The teams in a group play each other twice and then the top 2 teams in each group will advance to the next round of qualifying which is ominously known as the Hex. The six teams in the Hex will play another round robin. The top 3 teams after the round robin will advance to Russia 2018. The 4th ranked team will battle it out with an Asian team for the final spot in the World Cup.
Canada is currently playing Honduras in the group stage. As it stands right now, Canada is 3rd in their group and thereby would not qualify for the Hex. But, Canada still has 2 group stage matches left. The 1st will be held this Friday in Honduras versus Honduras. The next match will be played versus El Salvador at BC Place at 7pm on September 6th.
If Canada can manage to eek out a win in Honduras, it would go a long way towards our quest to qualify for the Hex. Honduras is currently ahead of us but only on goal differential. If we lose to Honduras, the only way Canada can qualify is if we beat El Salvador and Mexico beats Honduras by a few goals. In the case of a win, we qualify for the Hex as long as we get a point from the match versus El Salvador or if Mexico beats Honduras. In the case of a draw, things start to get complicated...
Playing, let alone winning, in Honduras is never an easy task. However, I believe that this talented mix of young and experienced players have a fighting chance. Canada also has pride on the line as they look to avenge their humiliating 8-1 loss to Honduras during their last attempt to qualify for the World Cup.
Make sure that you tune in to TSN 1,3 or 5 to watch our boys when they take on the Hondurans on the road to Russia 2018 at 5pm this Friday.