John Herdman has announced his squad ahead of the World Cup qualifying games against Bermuda and Cayman Islands on Orlando (Thursday) and Bradenton (Sunday) respectively.
It’s a strong squad with only Jonathan David (Lille) and Scott Arfield (Rangers) missing due to club commitments (a situation that is permitted under Covid circumstances).
There’s a balanced blend of youth and experience, with at least 8 players selected which could otherwise have represented Canada in the u23 Olympic qualifying tournament currently underway in Guadalajara.
Herdman said, “The squad selection shows the commitment of the players, how they feel about these games, representing Canada and how important the games are for the country.
“Having been apart for so long, we’re focused on being able to connect and ensuring we get the tactical clarity over the short window we have leading into the start of qualifying. It’s about the off-field connection and getting the guys comfortable being together again.”
Dropping points in either of the two games would represent a major surprise. In fact Canada is expected to acquire maximum points in the group and advance to a June play-off, probably with Haiti, for a place in the octagonal.
Failure to reach the top eight with the playing resources now available would be a catastrophe. But Haiti provides an almost certain hurdle on the way, as Canadian fans still smarting over the 2019 Gold Cup quarter-final defeat will appreciate.
Herdman again: “Our players do not need much motivation, they’re just really excited to play for their country again and every time we’re together we remind them that this team can change football in this nation.”
The international scene is incredibly busy and crowded with fixtures currently and Canada could play up to 22 matches in their attempt to qualify should they finish fourth in the hexagonal. It will be ‘only’ 20 should they finish third (or lower than 4th for that matter).
Canada Soccer’s 2020 Player of the Year Alphonso Davies trades the red of Bayern Munich for the red of Canada for the first time since his incredible year of personal and club achievements.
With Davies playing a key role, Bayern captured an historic six trophies in 2020; the UEFA Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, Bundesliga Title, DFB Cup, UEFA Super Cup, and German Super Cup.
Thirteen players are European-based with two involved in a title-chase with Turkish club Besiktas. Both veteran Atiba Hutchison and Cyle Larin have been regular choices for the Black Eagles this season, with Larin averaging a goal every two games.
There are first-ever call-ups for defender Ricardo Ferreira after switching allegiance from Portugal and 18-year old striker Theo Corbeanu of Wolves. Burlington-born Corbeanu has come through the system with Romania at u16 and u17 levels, but now has decided to throw his lot in with Canada.
Other potential debutants include the Minnesota United goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, centre-backs Frank Sturing of Dutch club FC Den Bosch and Joel Waterman (Montreal), Nashville SC left-sided defender Alistair Johnston and Cristian Gutierrez of Vancouver Whitecaps FC (Canada).
On Jonathan David, Herdman acknowledged a lot of hard work had gone on behind the scenes to make players available but securing the services of his young striker was not possible, this time around. “However... ” said Herdman, “... we’ll come through these times and see Jonathan back on the pitch for Canada in the near future.”
Of the three Montreal players selected, Sam Piette should start in a defensive midfield role in both games, while Kamal Miller looks set to add to his cap tally in defence. Joel Waterman may see some action, but is expected to start at least the first game against Bermuda on the bench.
Sam Piette’s next appearance for the national team represents his 50th cap. Only one Quebecer has more, Patrice Bernier (56).
GK- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)
GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
GK- Dayne St. Clair | USA / Minnesota United FC
CB- Ricardo Ferreira |
CB- Frank Sturing | NED / FC Den Bosch
CB- Steven Vitória | POR / Moreirense FC
CB- Joel Waterman | CAN / CF Montréal
FB- Samuel Adekugbe | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
FB- Cristián Gutierrez | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
FB- Alistair Johnston | USA / Nashville SC
FB- Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC
FB- Kamal Miller | CAN / CF Montréal
M- Theo Corbeanu | ENG / Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
M- Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Paços de Ferreira
M- Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
M- Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / Los Angeles FC
M- Jayden Nelson | CAN / Toronto FC
M- Samuel Piette | CAN / CF Montréal
M- David Wotherspoon | SCO / St. Johnstone FC
F- Lucas Cavallini | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München
F- David Junior Hoilett | WAL / Cardiff City FC
F- Cyle Larin | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
F- Liam Millar | ENG / Charlton Athletic FC
Check out the latest, The Ball Is Round Podcast (Episode 20). Recorded last Wednesday evening (17 March), the TBIR team discuss the Montreal captaincy, Henry’s recent UK TV appearance, Gilmore’s CCL comments and describe what the dawning of a new season means to each of them. Plus all the usual favourite features...and a new one... Eve’s Time Machine... Don’t miss it!
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