With an eye on their Road to Russia, Canada posted a 1:1 draw in a Friday away Men’s International Friendly match against Azerbaijan
The international match, the first of a two-match June 2016 series in Austria, is part of Canada’s preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Qualifiers against Honduras away on 2 September and El Salvador at home on 6 September.
Tesho Akindele scored Canada’s opening goal, with an assist from Canada’s star of the match Scott Arfield. Dimitrij Nabokov scored the Azerbaijan equaliser on a penalty in the second half. Following the 3 June draw, Canada will next face Uzbekistan on Tuesday 7 June in Bad Waltersdorf, with the match to be broadcast live on canadasoccer.com (16.00 local / 10.00 ET / 07.00 PT).
“To achieve something, you need to practice,” said Benito Floro of Canada’s preparations for September. “We need to continue to increase our level, so in the next match we will continue to do the same to prepare for Honduras.”
The two June matches are Canada’s last international tests before the September series in San Pedro Sula and Vancouver. With Mexico already through to the next round, only Canada, El Salvador or Honduras will surive the September series to advance to the “Hex.”
Canada posted a 1:1 draw with Azerbaijan in a Men’s International Friendly match in Rohrbach an der Lafnitz, Austria. Canada scored first, but then Azerbaijan equalised on a penalty in the Friday 3 June match at neutral site Stadion Rohrbach an der Lafnitz.
In the first international meeting of these two sides, a Tesho Akindele goal in the 43rd minute opened the scoring for Canada as he cooly finished a slick passing move from star of the match Scott Arfield. Azerbaijan then equalised after Dimitrij Nazarov converted his penalty kick in the 57th minute.
Akindele also hit the crossbar midway through the first half.
Azerbaijan proved staunch opponents from the off, the attacking trio of Agabala Ramazanov, Namig Aleskerov, and Afran Izmailov kept the Canadian defenders honest with their hard work and direct running on the ball. Any loose passes in the middle of the field were quickly pounced upon and moved into dangerous areas. Dejan Jakovic and Steven Vitoria put in calm, steady performances in the centre of the back line to make sure that the shots were from bad angles, or far enough out, so that goalkeeper Simon Thomas wasn’t overly tested on too many of these opportunities.
Debutant Michael Petrasso looked sharp, often dropping deep on the left side to pick the ball up before making progress up the flank. He had a number of moments that displayed his speed, balance, and skill with the ball, but the final pass was always just out of reach, as the Azerbaijan defence worked hard to provide cover in all positions.
The game calmed down after the second goal, but Junior Hoilett was beginning to exert his influence on proceedings as time wore on. Hoilett, a second-half substitute, owned the left flank and put in a number of dangerous crosses that had the Azerbaijan defence worried. The most open of these chances was in the 86th minute when he found Simeon Jackson all alone in the penalty area, but the ball just wouldn’t settle for him and the shot was a tame effort that Kamran Agaev gathered gratefully.