Canada’s Mission Octagon
John Herdman’s men are laser-focused on their mission: “take us to the octagon” as the Canucks “host” Haiti in Chicago for the final leg of the second round.
Canada’s pursuit of a World Cup berth continues when they take on 83rd-ranked Haiti, the 11th strongest team in CONCACAF. The two sides squared off in Port-au-Prince on Saturday, where Canada put on quite the professional performance defeating the host 1-0 courtesy of Cyle Larin’s tap-in goal on 14 minutes.
The Reds could have doubled their lead shortly after taking the lead with Larin and late in the second half with Jonathan David whose attempts were well stopped by Haiti’s shot-stopper Johny Placide. Using Betfair’s offer, you can find great odds on Canada advancing to their first World Cup since 1986.
Canada ran a few risks themselves, particularly in the second half but Bojan responded well. The Red Star Belgrade man had to come up big when a Frantzdy Pierrot bicycle kick forced him to a fingertip save. Canada, however, was able to soak up the pressure by the home side and run away with a precious away win.
The island nation of Haiti has continued its resurgence, having shocked the soccer world with their superior performance in Gold Cup 2019 when they reached the semifinals at the hands of the Canadians. The Reds will be looking to advance this round in order to avenge that Gold Cup quarterfinal match where Haiti overturned a 2-0 lead that Canada had built in the first half.
Canada will need to draw or win the match this evening in Chicago (kickoff at 9:05PM) in order to advance to the octagon where the final eight teams of CONCACAF would be involved in home-and-away matches – the top three of which will gain an automatic berth to World Cup 2022, while the fourth place team will participate in an intercontinental playoff round.
“The mission is clear: take us to the octagon. This is what we’re here to do. Be humble, have tunnel vision, become heros” Canadian coach John Herdman told media on a call yesterday. Herdman told media that one of the biggest achievements of this team is the bond that they’ve built: “we’ve come a long way as a group. These are the long-term steps to solidify our culture, our identity”.
Two changes are expected from the side that featured in the first leg with Bojan defending the Canadian goal, with Henry replacing Vitoria in the centre of defence, flanked by Kennedy and Johnson. A four-man midfield with Laryea and Davies on the right and left flank, respectively while Piette instead of Kaye and Estaquio in a holding position. Nothing will change up top with David, Larin, and Osorio completing the forward line.
Three changes are rumoured in Haiti’s expected 4-3-3, which will feature Placide in goal, Ade, Arcus (instead of Lambese), Alceus and Geffrard in defence, Simonsen in front of defence with Christian and Saba (in for Lafrance) as mezzala; while Pierrot, and Etienne will be flanking Nazon (to replace Antoine) in attack. This “home” match for Canada will take place in Bridgeview, Illinois’ SeatGeek Stadium and not on home soil due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
“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 with no home advantage, but we will embrace that challenge”, Canada coach John Herdman said in a statement. The kickoff this evening set is set for 9:05 PM and is available in streaming on the OneSoccer network in Canada.
By: Rocco Fasano (@Catenacciona)
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Vaughn Ridley – Getty Images