Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team have announced their squad that will play in front of a Sea of Red supporters in Edmonton this month in the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. Unbeaten Canada will face both Costa Rica and first-place Mexico in a pair of all important matches at Commonwealth Stadium as they continue to build momentum on the road to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
“These home matches present different challenges for which we will need to be ready, but as usual it is one match at a time and with a full house at Commonwealth Stadium we will be pushing for maximum points,” said John Herdman, Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Head Coach.
Tickets for these highly-anticipated home matches have been selling strong and fans are encouraged to join the Sea of Red with prices starting at just $20 at Ticketmaster.ca. Canada (two wins and four draws for 10 points after six matches) play Friday 12 November against Costa Rica (1-3-2 / 6 points) and then Tuesday November 16 against Mexico (4-2-0 / 14 points).
Both matches kick off at 19.00 local (21.00 ET / 18.00 PT) and will be broadcast live on OneSoccer, including TELUS channel 980, onesoccer.ca, Sportsnet and RDS, including a one-hour Match Day Live show. Fans will find extended coverage across Canada Soccer’s digital channels on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube featuring the hashtag #CANMNT.
With 10 points from their first six matches in September and October, Canada are in third place amongst the eight nations in the Concacaf Final Round, with eight matches to be played between November 2021 and March 2022. From 14 matches, the top-three teams will qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ while the fourth-place team will advance to an intercontinental playoff with an additional opportunity to qualify for Qatar 2022.
“The minimum goal at the end of every window is to finish in the top-three, but these games give us the chance to create separation between us and Costa Rica and the potential of closing the gap on the group leaders Mexico,” said Herdman. “There’s so much to play for, but with our home crowds behind us anything is possible” said Herdman.
Canada and Costa Rica most recently faced each other in the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup Quarterfinals this summer, with Canada the 2:0 winners in Arlington, Texas on goals by Junior Hoilett and Stephen Eustáquio. Before that, the two sides drew each other 1:1 in the group phase of the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup in Houston and 0:0 in the group phase of the 2015 Concacaf Gold Cup in Toronto.
Canada and Mexico most recently faced each other in the Concacaf Final Round at Estadio Azteca on 7 October, a 1:1 draw after Jonathan Osorio scored the equalizer late in the first half. While Mexico have the upper hand in the head-to-head series between the two countries, the two sides have drawn both previous meetings at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta: a 2:2 draw on 12 October 1997 and a 2:2 draw on 15 October 2008.
“We play for Canada, and it is the fans for whom we are doing this, for those who are as passionate about this sport and country as us” said Herdman. “We want to take this country and our fans to a FIFA World Cup, that is our mission.”
Two-time Canada Soccer Player of the Year Alphonso Davies will make his long-awaited international debut in his hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, in fact his first games in his hometown since leaving Edmonton at age 14 to join the Vancouver Whitecaps program and then FC Bayern München in Germany where he has won 10 titles including the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Champions League.
Canada’s squad features players from professional clubs in Concacaf, Asia and Europe, including first-time call-up Iké Ugbo of KRC Genk in Belgium. Ugbo, who previously represented England at the international youth level, is the latest professional player to switch associations to represent Canada at the international “A” level. The 23-year old striker is one of seven players in the Canada squad who currently features in 2021-22 UEFA club competitions, having already featured in three UEFA Europa League matches.
Alongside Ugbo, goalkeeper Milan Borjan is also competing in UEFA Europa League with Red Star Belgrade while Liam Millar is competing with FC Basel in UEFA Europa Conference League. In UEFA Champions League, the four competing Canadians are Jonathan David from Lille OSC in France, Davies from FC Bayern in Germany, and both Atiba Hutchinson and Cyle Larin play from Beşiktaş JK in Turkey. David and Hutchinson, like Davies, are former Canada Soccer Player of the Year winners.
Other Canadian players arriving from clubs based in Europe are Samuel Adekugbe of Hatayspor in Turkey, Derek Cornelius of Panetolikos FC, Stephen Eustáquio of FC Paços de Ferreira in Portugal, Steven Vitória of Moreirense FC in Portugal, and David Wotherspoon of St. Johnston FC in Scotland. Doneil Henry of Suwon Samsung Bluewings in Korea Republic is the lone player arriving from Asia.
From clubs in Major League Soccer, Tajon Buchanan plays for New England Revolution, Lucas Cavallini and Maxime Crépeau play for Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Alistair Johnston of Nashville SC, Mark-Anthony Kaye of Colorado Rapids, Richie Laryea and Jonathan Osorio of Toronto FC, and Kamal Miller, James Pantemis and Samuel Piette of CF Montréal.
CANADA SOCCER’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada has built plenty of momentum in a landmark year for the Men’s National Team Program that will feature a record 19 international matches including FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the Concacaf Gold Cup. Canada have already played 17 of those 19 matches, posting a record of 11-4-2 with eight clean sheets and a record 52 goals scored. Canada also set a record with eight consecutive wins and reached the Concacaf Gold Cup Semifinals for the first time since 2007.
Canada will play eight of their 14 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers in the Concacaf Final Round from September through November 2021: three matches in September, three matches in October, and two matches in November. In 2022, Canada will play three more matches in January/February and three more matches in March. Along with Honduras, USA and El Salvador, Canada’s other opponents in the Concacaf Final Round are Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, and Panama.
To reach the Concacaf Final Round, Canada won their First Round group against Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Suriname, then eliminated Haiti in a head-to-head Second Round series. This marks the first time since 1997 that Canada have reached the Concacaf Final Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. From the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations, the top-three nations automatically qualify for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and the fourth-best nation advance to an inter-continental playoff for additional FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™Qualifiers.
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team are two-time Concacaf champions, previously winning the 1985 Concacaf Championship and 2000 Concacaf Gold Cup. This year marked Canada’s 15th participation at the Concacaf Gold Cup since 1991. Along with their first-place finish in 2000, Canada reached the Semifinals in 2002, 2007, and 2021. Across the past five years from 2017 to 2021, Canada are one of only four nations that finished top-six across all four Concacaf major tournaments: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A, sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups, and a semi-final finish at the 2021 Concacaf Gold Cup.
GK- Milan Borjan | SRB / FK Crvena zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)
GK- Maxime Crépeau | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
CB- Derek Cornelius | GRE / Panetolikos FC
CB- Doneil Henry | KOR / Suwon Samsung Bluewings
CB- Kamal Miller | CAN / CF Montréal
CB- Steven Vitória | POR / Moreirense FC
FB- Samuel Adekugbe | TUR / Hatayspor FC
FB- Alistair Johnston | USA / Nashville SC
FB- Richie Laryea | CAN / Toronto FC
M- Stephen Eustáquio | POR / FC Paços de Ferreira
M- Atiba Hutchinson | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
M- Mark-Anthony Kaye | USA / Colorado Rapids
M- Jonathan Osorio | CAN / Toronto FC
M- Samuel Piette | CAN / CF Montréal
M- David Wotherspoon | SCO / St. Johnstone FC
F- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
F- Lucas Cavallini | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
F- Jonathan David | FRA / Lille OSC
F- Alphonso Davies | GER / FC Bayern München
F- Cyle Larin | TUR / Beşiktaş JK
F- Liam Millar | SUI / FC Basel
F- Iké Ugbo | BEL / KRC Genk