Canada will open their 2018 calendar in a Men’s International Friendly match against New Zealand this 24 March in San Pedro del Pinatar, Murcia, Spain. The Saturday soccer match will mark the start of a new era under newly-appointed Head Coach John Herdman.
Fans can watch the match live via CanadaSoccer.com kicking off at 16.00 local / 11.00 ET / 8.00 PT. In addition, exclusive behind-the scenes content and post-match commentary is available on Canada Soccer’s digital channels including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.
“There is a good mood in the group and overall it has been a great experience for everyone involved, so we have a sense of what this group is capable of doing,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach. “You can get a sense of how much they care and you can see that there are guys here that are super hungry to take Canada somewhere they haven’t been in a long time.”
It has been a short international window for the Canadian team, with players arriving from their professional clubs at the start of the week. The squad has been focused on establishing their plans, methods, and relationships with a long-term vision towards qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
“It’s a fresh start and it’s a clean slate for everyone,” said centre back David Edgar. “Everyone is fighting for their position and fighting for the shirt that we are so honoured to wear.”
Canada have clear roadmap ahead, with Concacaf Nations League Qualifying matches beginning in September. Canada will play four matches from September 2018 to March 2019, with home matches in October against Dominica and March against French Guiana. At stake are spots in the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League Group A.
While Saturday marks the first match on Canada’s new journey, the team and players have been hard at work establishing a new high-performance culture and identity since Herdman’s appointment in January.
“We are developing an identity,” said forward Tosaint Ricketts. “We feel that if everyone buys in and pushes the culture that we are trying to instill, then it can only be positive for Canada. This is just the first match and we are looking for a result, but we are also looking to show our passion and cohesiveness. It’s a good start against a good side and the boys are excited.”
The match against New Zealand will provide Canada with an opportunity to prepare for those bigger matches in the future.
In 2017, Canada posted an international record of four wins, three draws, and two losses in nine international matches. In the last three years, Canada’s record is 13 wins, 10 draws, and 10 losses. New Zealand, meanwhile, posted a record of three wins, two draws, and seven losses in 12 matches in 2017. New Zealand played in the FIFA Confederations Cup and reached the intercontinental playoffs of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Peru.
The 2018 match will be the first meeting between the two sides since a Canadian tour back in 1980. Canada won both of those matches against their Oceania opponents. Herdman is familiar with the New Zealand program having once made his home in New Zealand, holding the position of Director of Football combined with the Women’s National Team Head Coach where he earned New Zealand Coach of the Year honours in 2006 and 2008.
Incidentally, the match provides a coaching debut for both National Teams, with Herdman in charge of Canada and Fritz Schmid in charge of New Zealand.
“We have to expect the unexpected and be ready for that,” said Herdman. “What we can control is our identity and we will need to have commitment from our players in key moments in the match.”
CONCACAF NATIONS LEAGUE
Canada are already looking forward to the upcoming Concacaf Nations League Qualifying competition that kicks off September 2018. Concacaf Nations League, the new national team competition platform created to maximize the match dates presented within the FIFA international calendar, features a 68-match schedule with Canada playing U.S. Virgin Islands away in September 2018, Dominica at home in October 2018, St. Kitts & Nevis away in November 2018, and French Guiana at home in March 2019.
The Concacaf Nations League has been created to provide an avenue for more meaningful and quality international soccer matches while uniting the Concacaf region through competition. The 2018-19 Concacaf Nations League Qualifying matches serve as a qualification route to both the next Concacaf Gold Cup in the Summer of 2019 and the respective classification groups to Concacaf Nations League in the Fall of 2019.
Canada are two-time Concacaf champions, having won the Concacaf Championship in 1985 and the Concacaf Gold Cup in 2000. In winning the 1985 CONCACAF Championship, Canada qualified for the 1986 FIFA World Cup Mexico™; in winning the 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup, Canada qualified for the FIFA Confederations Cup Korea/Japan 2001.