Canada Fights Back to Earn Draw With Bahrain

Canada Fights Back to Earn Draw With Bahrain

While they still wait for their players competing for club teams in Europe to arrive, the Canadian Men’s National Team took to the field against Bahrain in their second-to-last tune-up game, ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. The pitch at Khalifa Sports City Stadium certainly gave football traditionalists a difficult time arguing why turf is the worst thing to ever exist, but nevertheless, it served as a critical game for the MLS contingent of the Canadian side.

It wasn’t the picturesque night that many would have hoped for, as Canada struggled at times against the world-rank 85 Bahrain side. When it was all said and done, the game ended in a 2-2 draw, surely a disappointing result for Canada, and their manager, John Herdman.

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It didn’t take long for the game to get going for the Canadians, and it looked like they were going to be off to the races early in the contest. Ismaël Koné was the recipient of a Kamal Miller pass in space in the middle of the field, and after running straight toward goal, pounded the ball past Bahrain keeper, Ibraheem Latf Allah. It was an important goal for Koné, who continues to look like a potential underdog candidate to be a contributor for the Canadians, when they touchdown in Qatar in two week’s time.

Ismaël Koné, Canadian Men’s National Team – Getty Images

But the lead was short-lived, and Bahrain pounced on a gifted chance. After some sloppy play in the midfield from the Canadians, Abdulla Yusuf played a cross through the box for Mahdi Al-Humaidan, and although Dayne St. Clair managed to get his hands on the ball, he couldn’t tip it away from the goal. Just like that, eight minutes after Canada claimed the lead, things were back level.

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The remainder of the opening half continued to be a touch sloppy, as you would expect without the likes of Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David, and Tajon Buchanan (among others). The Canadians couldn’t generate many chances to score, and the ones they did get weren’t all that threatening to Laft Allah. Bahrain likely had the more dangerous opportunities, but again, they couldn’t beat St. Clair, or the goalpost.

But the game was far from being out of Canadian control. Canada possessed the ball 62 percent of the time in the opening half, and outshot Bahrain 4-3. If you really wanted to nitpick, however, you definitely could. To say the least, Canada is a better team when their best players are on the pitch, but who isn’t?


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Early in the second half, Canada and Koné looked threatening once more. Raheem Edwards crossed the ball into the far post for Koné inside the six-yard box, and with a wide-open goal the only thing Koné could see, he headed the ball wide of the net, agonizingly missing a golden opportunity. Still, it was a sign of life, and proof that Canada remained dangerous. Moments later, Richie Laryea crossed one for Jonathan Osorio, but the Bahrain defender got there first and made a great defensive play.

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In the 64th minute, disaster struck for Canada. Alistair Johnston committed a foul no more than a quarter of an inch inside the penalty area, and Bahrain took advantage, as Yusuf put it home. St. Clair guessed the right way, and even got a piece of the ball, but the shot was too much to handle, and Bahrain took a 2-1 lead.

With 25 minutes left to play, Canada was left searching for a goal if they hoped to salvage a result on a degrading pitch. Numerous chances came and went, but the ball wasn’t finding the back of the net for Canada. That changed with a fortunate bounce for Lucas Cavallini, who scored while looking in the wrong direction. Regardless of the circumstance, Canada was back level. That’s where the score would remain for the rest of the game, ending in a draw

With the final scoreline meaning nothing in the grand scheme of things, the concern is, and should be, elsewhere. That concern is about the injuries, much like any other team heading to the World Cup at such an odd time of the year. Of course, there’s concern for Davies, who has remained with Bayern Munich for the time being, but you can add Doneil Henry, who was supposed to start the game for Canada, but didn’t, and Miller, who was subbed off in the 71st minute, looking injured.

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Canada will have one more game to get ready for the World Cup, when they take on Japan on Thursday, November 17th. Japan last played in the previous international window, where they beat the United States 2-0, and drew 0-0 with Ecuador. The game will be played at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai, at 8:40 am ET.


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