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Octavio Zambrano’s debut as head coach of Team Canada

Zambrano to debut as head coach of team Canada at Stade Saputo

Canada Soccer / Twitter

After having brought 28 players to camp, Canada soccer coach Octavio Zambrano has trimmed his roster to 23 players. Montreal Impact’s very own Maxime Crépeau, Anthony Jackson-Hamel, and Maxime Bernier make the final roster for the Canada-Curacao friendly that will be played on Tuesday, June 13 at Saputo Stadium, 7:30 pm.

This friendly will be a warm-up match ahead of the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. 37 years old midfielder Patrick Bernier is the most experienced player on the team with 53 international appearances. Traditionally, Canada’s been more recognized for his defending but this year it could be different, Canada has a lot of young attacking talent.

12 players are aged 23 or under, the youngest being 16 years old Alphonso Davies, a midfielder who plays for the Vancouver Whitecap. Davies was born in Central Ghana from Liberian parents and became a Canadian citizen just a week ago. He’s also the youngest player to score a goal in USL history. Coach Zambrano didn’t say if Davies will be a starter against Curacao on Tuesday but he’ll surely get some playing time.

“He’s a player that makes a difference”, says Zambrano. “You’ll see when he comes on the field he’s immediately an impact player. I see a bright future for him.”

This friendly will also be a great occasion for Canada to improve its positioning in the FIFA rankings. Curacao is currently in 70th place but Canada is in 109th place. The former is mostly composed of players playing in the Netherlands and the U.K.

Nonetheless, Zambrano is far from being intimidated.

Here’s his statement: “You can argue about CONCACAF rankings or FIFA rankings and how they arrive to give these position, but the fact of the matter is they are ranked much better than we are. We definitely have to come out and make a statement that Canada is superior to Curacao. We have to do it on the field and not just words.”

The last time that Canada played in Montreal was in 2010. It will be a great occasion for the fans in Montreal to stand behind their national team.