It certainly wasn’t the biggest game of the international window for the Canadian Men’s National Team, that comes on Tuesday afternoon when they take on Uruguay, but a 2-0 win over World Cup host Qatar allowed Les Rouges to start things with a bang.
Coming into the contest, Canada was ranked 43rd in the FIFA rankings, among the highest rankings they have ever received. Although Qatar was ranked below the Canadians (coming in at 48th), they are no pushovers, having won the 2019 AFC Asian Cup title, defeating the likes of Iraq, South Korea, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Japan. Additionally, this served as the first non-CONCACAF test for the Canadians in 2022, and the first time they have faced non-CONCACAF opposition since facing New Zealand in 2018.
The Canadians started quickly, immediately pressing Qatar to their back foot, and capitalized on an early chance in the fourth minute. Cyle Larin scored his 25th career goal with the National Team, finishing Sam Adekugbe’s crossing attempt with a header, beating Qatari keeper, Saad Al Sheeb.
Just nine minutes later, Canada struck again, this time thanks to Jonathan David. With the ball loose in the six-yard box, David pounced on the chance, tucking it into the back of the goal, giving the Canadians a two-goal lead they would hold until the full-time whistle 75 minutes later.
After the game, Canadian coach John Herdman said that he knew the opening 20 minutes would be the most difficult for Canada, and that he thought his players dealt with it well. That is, perhaps, an understatement, considering the explosion that was the Canadian attack in the first 14 minutes of the game.
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One of the highlights for the Canadians, however, was their defending. Although they were unable to capitalize on their chances later in the game, the Canadian back line was able to hold Qatar in check, and even when they did buckle, Milan Borjan was there to handle business.
If there was cause for concern in this game, it was unquestionably the injury status of Alphonso Davies. Thankfully, it appears as if he is no worse for wear.
“I think he’s all right. He was sitting on the bench smiling. So I think he’s fine,” Canada coach John Herdman said after the match.
Now heading into a game against 13th-ranked Uruguay, Canada is excited to test their worth.
“For us it’s a cup final playing against Uruguay, similar to playing against a Belgium or a Croatia (whom Canada will face in Group F at the World Cup). So there’s an excitement there. But again we have to temper that with the reality of the quality that they have and then we’ve got to put the work in these next three days.”
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