On Saturday, our Canadian national team traveled down to the hot and humid Central American country of Honduras to face off versus their national team. This match was part of Canada's bid to qualify for Russia 2018. A win would go a very long way to qualifying Canada for the next round of qualifying known as the Hex. Other than Canada's goal to advance to Russia, Canada was also playing for pride. Our Canadian boys desperately wanted to avenge the 8-1 loss they suffered at the hands of Honduras in 2012.
Canada and Honduras traded scoring chances early. It was eventually Canada who got the better of Honduras in the 35th minute via the head of Manrekar James. Scott Arfield of Canada sent in a superb corner which James leaped up high over everyone else to reach and head into the back of the Honduran's net to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
As the first half went on, Canadian keeper Milan Borjan was stellar. Our keeper made many key saves to preserve the Canadian lead. However, in the 2nd minute of extra time at the end of the first half, Honduras finally got the better of Borjan. Mario Martinez fired from 25 yards out. The ball found a path between Canadian defenders and once our keeper finally saw the shot, it was too late for him to react. Honduras scored and equalized the score at 1 a few seconds before the end of the half.
Statistically, Honduras dominated Canada as they had 76% of possession, 5 shots on target compared to our 1 and 12 corners compared to our 2. Even if the stats represent a poor first half on Canada's part, I found that we were resolute in our defending and were able to attempt a few counterattacks. All in all, Canada did not play a bad first 45 minutes and deserved to retreat to the locker room with the 1-1 draw.
Benito Floro's men would be content with another half of confident defending. However, in the opening minutes of the second half, Canada started putting a bit more pressure on the Honduran back line. This pressure left Canada vulnerable on the counterattack. In the 50th minute, Honduras' Albert Elis was racing down Canada's right flank and fired in a low cross that his teammate Romell Quioto buried to give Honduras their first lead of the match.
Despite Canada's continued push for the final goal, they came up short and Honduras went on to win the match 2-1 over Canada. This match complicates Canada's quest for the Hex. To qualify for the next round, Canada will need to win and score at least 2 goals versus El Salvador. Also, Mexico will need to beat Honduras by a few goals.
You can catch Canada's next match on the road to Russia on Tuesday September 6th at 9:30pm when Canada takes on El Salvador at BC Place.