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4 questions facing the Canadian men’s team ahead of friendly games in September

Canada’s preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will begin in earnest this month with two important exhibition matches abroad.

After a hiatus since June, the Canadian men’s team will return to action on Friday with the first of two international friendly games against Qatar in Vienna. The Reds will also play Uruguay on 27 September in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Qatar (49th) and Uruguay (13th) will both qualify for the World Cup, as will Canada, who is currently ranked 43rd in the FIFA World Rankings.

Coach John Hardman is using these two games as a tune-up for the World Cup, giving the team an opportunity to test before moving to Qatar. After this international competition, Canada will face Japan in her final warm-up match in Dubai on November 17th.

Here are four key issues facing Canada heading into this month’s two exhibition matches.

Can Canada Compete Against Non-Concacafe Countries?

Uruguay boasts a very talented roster that includes Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez pictured left.(Matilde Campodonico/AP)

In John Hardman’s first match as coach on 24 March 2018, the Canadian men’s team defeated New Zealand 1-0 in a friendly staged in Spain. It was the last time Canada played outside of North America. The Reds’ last game against a non-Konkakaffe nation on January 15, 2020 in California saw him lose 1–0 to Iceland.

Aside from those two contests, Canada has faced only the Concacaf team in the last four and a half years. Without a doubt, Canada had a magical run in the final round of World Cup qualifiers, beating out traditional Conca Cafe heavyweights such as Mexico, the United States, Costa Rica and Honduras to earn their ticket to Qatar.

But Canada has not tested outside of its region since Hardman took office. As a result, we really don’t know how this Canadian team stacks up in the larger world of football — beating the Concacaf team is one thing. But beating teams from other regions is another matter altogether.

When evaluating Uruguay’s squad, Hardman valued a roster that includes Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez, Real Madrid’s Federico Valverde and Tottenham’s Rodrigo Bentancur at over $400 million. No doubt they will be the most talented team Canada will face during their tenure.

How will Canada hold up without Achiba Hutchinson?

Canadian men’s soccer team midfielder Atiba Hutchinson jogs during a training session. (Daryl Dyke/CP)

A bone bruise sustained during pre-season has ruled out Atiba Hutchinson for the first seven games of Besiktas’ 2022-23 Turkish League season, ruling him out of the international competition window.

According to Herdman, the Canadian national team’s medical staff had flown in to check on Hutchinson’s condition after these two friendlies, hoping he would be ready to return to the game in late October. If his condition does not improve by then, he will not be able to board the plane to Qatar.

“It’s a tough situation for him because I think he means a lot to the team for all of us,” Hardman said. “If [there is] Whoever you want to meet at the World Cup, it’s Achiba Hutchinson. ”

Hutchinson is Canada’s all-time men’s cap leader with 97 and is also the longest-serving member of the current team, making his international debut in 2003.

The 39-year-old Hutchinson has aged well and the veteran midfielder has remained an important figure for both his club and country, providing irreplaceable leadership to Canada’s World Cup qualifiers. rice field.

Hutchinson’s absence will be felt hard during this two-game series, especially against a highly ranked Uruguay that boasts several players trading for top European clubs. What will be interesting is how Hardman makes up for Hutchinson’s loss in central midfield, and who steps up in the absence of the Canadian captain.

Injury problems and unwell players hurt Canada?

Toronto FC midfielder Jonathan Osorio salutes fans after defeating Pacific FC in the Canadian Championship semi-finals. (Evan Buehler/CP)

In addition to Hutchinson’s absence, Canada will also miss defender Donile Henry and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and David Wotherspoon due to injuries in the last two games.

Losing Osorio is a huge blow to Canada. The Toronto FC midfielder has appeared in his 13 of his 14 matches for the team (his eight as a starter) in the final round of his Cup qualifiers at Conca Café, making him a great starter for Hardman’s team. emphasized his importance.

Another influential midfielder, Marc Anthony Kaye, was called up by Hardman for this window, but has just returned from a minor lower body injury that has cost him an eight-game streak at the TFC.

One of Canada’s most dynamic attackers, winger Tajon Buchanan has yet to play for Belgian club Brugge this season due to a quadriceps injury. Buchanan was called up by Hardman this month, but can only feature against Uruguay.

“Both the club and the national team are trying to wrap him in cotton wool, so his playing time will be very limited,” Hardman said.

Meanwhile, Buchanan’s teammate at Brugge, forward Saile Larin, has not seen much playing time so far this season. Similarly, centre-back Scott Kennedy said that in the German second division he was SSV Jahn.He did not perform very well with Regensburg, but winger Liam His Miller has seen him in the Swiss League’s FC Basel line-up. I went in and out.

Will newcomers and young people get a chance to play?

Columbus Crew’s Luis Diaz (left) and CF Montreal’s Joel Waterman chase the ball in the first half of an MLS soccer match. (Jay Laprite/AP)

John Hardman’s 27-man roster this month includes 18-year-old winger Luca Coleshocho, who plays for Spanish club Espanyol. Koleosho has previously been called up from Canada, but has yet to make his senior team debut.

Born in the United States, Koleosho has played for his home country at youth level and has not closed the door to the senior team. With this in mind, we have to believe that Hardman wants to give Koreosho time to play this month.

CF Montreal defender Joel Waterman was also called up to the September window. Like Koleosho, Waterman has been invited to camp before, but has not earned a cap for Canada. Waterman has enjoyed his MLS breakout season at Monreal and will likely qualify for Worlds his Cup if he gets significant playing time against Qatar and Uruguay.

20-year-old Ismaël Koné (CF Montreal) and Theo Corbeanu (Blackpool) have impressed the club this season, but the pair only have eight caps. Will Herdman show confidence and use them in these important World Cup tune-up games for him, or will he give minutes to players who are more likely to attract attention as he represents Canada at the World Cup?

John Molinaro is one of Canada’s leading football journalists, covering the game for over 20 years in multiple media outlets including Sportsnet, CBC Sports and Sun Media. He is currently editor-in-chief of TFC Republic, his website dedicated to in-depth coverage of Toronto FC and Canadian football. You can find the TFC Republic here.

4 questions facing the Canadian men’s team ahead of friendly games in September

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