Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team have announced their squad for the upcoming FIFA World Cup™ Qualifiers as Canada continues to build momentum towards Qatar 2022. The Canada squad will meet in Florida for their penultimate First Round match against Aruba on Saturday 5 June and then travel to Chicago for their decisive Group B match against Suriname on Tuesday 8 June.
Only the group winner will advance beyond the First Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers, with the Group B winner to face the Group E winner in a Second Round, a head-to-head series on 12 and 15 June that will start in either Belize, Haiti or Nicaragua. The winner from that Second Round then advances to the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations scheduled to begin in the Fall of 2021.
“It’s great to be back together and continue to build on our momentum as every match counts on the road to Qatar 2022,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach. “We have an opportunity to build on our solid start, after we put ourselves in a good position with goals difference in the first two matches so that we can control our destiny in the games to come.”
Canada’s international matches in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers will all be broadcast live on OneSoccer with the Saturday Aruba-Canada match scheduled to kick off at 20.00 ET / 17.00 PT and the Tuesday Canada-Suriname match scheduled for 21.00 ET / 18.00 PT (20.00 local in Bridgeview, Illinois). Canada’s home match on 8 June at SeatGeek Stadium will be played in a closed-door environment. Fans will find extended coverage across Canada Soccer’s digital channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube featuring the hashtag #CANMNT.
“We had hoped to play our home match with Canadian fans providing the support and momentum to play a tough nation like Suriname in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” said Herdman. “The reality of the global pandemic and the priority to keep our communities in Canada safe means the match will be played at a neutral site in Chicago, but we will embrace that challenge. Whatever comes at us, we will take it on and do whatever we need to do to advance to the next round.”
Canada opened their Group B schedule with back-to-back wins in March, starting with the 5:1 victory over Bermuda on 25 March and then the record-setting 11:0 win over Cayman Islands on 29 March. As each Group B nation faces each other only once, goals difference could be the deciding statistic that qualifies a nation for the next round. Canada and Suriname are currently the top-two teams in Group B with perfect six points from their two wins in March, with Canada on +15 goals difference compared to Suriname on +9 goals difference. Bermuda are next with three points (+1 goals) while Aruba and Cayman Islands were both eliminated after back-to-back losses in March. Suriname, who have drawn on new Dutch-born recruits from leagues in Europe, will face Bermuda on 4 June in a home match in Paramaribo, Suriname.
In all, 30 Concacaf nations are competing in this first round with six group winners advancing to a second round of head-to-head knockout matches. FIFA have established Canada’s pathway for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers beginning with an initial round of four matches against Group B opponents Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname.
“We’ve created something here, a brotherhood based on a shared purpose to qualify this team to the FIFA World Cup,” said Herdman. “They care about each other and that’s the first thing. They care about taking this team to the FIFA World Cup and you saw it in March when they had a chance to be back together and build on that spirit in the Canada shirt.”
The Canada squad features a mix of youth and experience from players in Europe, Asia and North America, with notably several players winning league titles, domestic cups and qualification to continental club football in the recent 2020-21 European season. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan won his first double with Red Star Belgrade (SuperLiga and Serbian Cup), midfielder David Wotherspoon helped St. Johnstone to a historic double in Scotland (Scottish Cup and League Cup), and forward Cyle Larin won his first double with Beşiktaş JK (Süper Lig & Turkish Cup). Midfielder Stephen Eustáquio, meanwhile, helped FC Paços de Ferreira return to continental football with qualification to UEFA Europa Conference League.
From Europe’s top-5 leagues, both Jonathan David and Alphonso Davies won titles in 2020-21. David, whose 13 goals set a record for a Canadian in a top-5 league, led Lille OSC to the Ligue 1 title in France. Davies, who already has nine club trophies to his credit in three seasons, again helped FC Bayern Munich win the 2020-21 Bundesliga title. David and Davies are two of the youngest players in the squad, with only Theo Corbeanu younger at age 19. Corbeanu, who made his Canada debut in March, recently made his debut with Wolverhampton in the Premier League.
Corbeanu is one of seven players who have featured in two or less international “A” appearances for Canada. Other young players are Alistair Johnston of Nashville SC, Frank Sturing of FC Den Bosch (Netherlands), and potential debutants Tajon Buchanan of New England Revolution, Scott Kennedy of SSV Jahn Regensburg (Germany), James Pantemis of CF Montréal and Dayne St. Clair of Minnesota United FC.
As for added experience for the upcoming window, the Canada squad also features Sam Adekugbe of Vålerenga, Doneil Henry of Suwon Samsung Bluewings, Junior Hoilett recently from Cardiff City FC, Liam Millar who was on loan with Charlton Athletic, and Steven Vitória from Moreirense FC. Players from clubs in Major League Soccer are Lucas Cavallini from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Liam Fraser on loan to Columbus Crew SC, Mark-Anthony Kaye from Los Angeles FC, Richie Laryea and Jonathan Osorio from Toronto FC, and Samuel Piette from CF Montréal.
In terms of Canada’s most experienced players in the squad, Borjan and Piette both recently made their 50th international “A” appearances in March. Both of them are taking part in their third cycle of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on the road to Qatar 2022.
CANADA SOCCER’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team, two-time Concacaf champions, were one of only four nations that have finished top-six across all three of Concacaf major tournaments across the past three years: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A and sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups. In 2019 against Concacaf’s top three nations, Canada earned a victory against USA in Concacaf Nations League as well as eliminated both Mexico (U-15) and Costa Rica (U-17) in Concacaf youth competitions.
It will be an exciting yet busy summer of soccer for Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program in 2021. On the heels of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers in June, Canada will participate in the 30th anniversary edition of the Concacaf Gold Cup, with their Group B matches scheduled in Kansas City on 11 July against Martinique, 15 July against a yet-to-be-determined Caribbean nation from the preliminary round, and 18 July against USA. The top-two nations from Group B advance to the final round with the Quarterfinals on 24 July, the Semifinals on 29 July, and the Final on 1 August.
FIFA WORLD CUP QATAR 2022™ QUALIFIERS
Concacaf have established Canada’s pathway for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers beginning with a First Round being played amongst the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 6-35 based on the FIFA Men’s Ranking as of 16 July 2020. From the first round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers, the Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a second-round, head-to-head series. The winner from that second round then advances to the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations in which each nation will play each opponent twice (once at home and once on the road).
GK- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)
GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
GK- Dayne St. Clair | USA / Minnesota United FC
Samuel Adekugbe | NOR / Vålerenga Fotball
Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
Lucas Cavallini | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Theo Corbeanu | ENG / Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
Jonathan David | FRA / Lille OSC
Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München
Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Paços de Ferreira
Liam Fraser | USA / Columbus Crew SC
Doneil Henry | KOR / Suwon Samsung Bluewings
David Junior Hoilett | WAL / Cardiff City FC
Alistair Johnston | USA / Nashville SC
Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / Los Angeles FC
Scott Kennedy | GER / SSV Jahn Regensburg
Cyle Larin | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC
Liam Millar | ENG / Liverpool FC
Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC
Samuel Piette | CAN / CF Montréal
Frank Sturing | NED / FC Den Bosch
Steven Vitória | POR / Moreirense FC
David Wotherspoon | SCO / St. Johnstone FC