SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – Safely on the ground in Honduras, Canada’s hopes history won’t repeat itself on Tuesday.
Just more than four years ago, Canada’s journey in 2010 World Cup qualifying came to an end with a 3-1 loss at the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano on the outskirts of Honduras’ second-largest city.
“Probably the most hostile atmosphere I’ve ever played in,” recalled defender André Hainault – who scored his first career goal for Canada that day. “I remember coming out for the game and you’re in this sort of cage-tunnel and there’s people climbing all over and shaking it, breathing on you. I won’t say spitting on you, but not far off.”
Now that they’ve arrived they’ll certainly be used to the sight of their hotel room walls.
The team arrived in San Pedro Sula two-and-a-half hours late after a delayed departure from Toronto. Given the city’s reputation for being one of the most violent on the planet, now that they’re in their lodgings – they’ll only leave for training Monday and for the all-important game against Honduras on Tuesday (4 pm ET, Sportsnet One).
In the end, the fears as to whether Canada’s inability to run up the score against Cuba on Friday coming back to haunt them never materialized. Honduras played Panama to a scoreless draw on Friday night, meaning goal difference won’t be a factor in deciding whether it’s Canada or Honduras who advance. But with his team needing only a draw, Canadian coach Stephen Hart knows it’s a precarious situation to be in.
“The most dangerous thing to tell a team is they need a draw,” Hart warned the gathering of Canadian media that’s made the trip down. “It’s very dangerous.”
Waiting for the team at the hotel was forward Lucas Cavallini who was called up to replace the suspended Olivier Occean. Cavallini found out about the call-up just before playing and scoring for club team Juventud las Piedras in Uruguay. After playing in his club's 1-1 draw, Cavallini had to head home and pack for the trip to Honduras.
“I went from Montevideo nine hours to Miami,” said a visibly tired Cavallini, who also called it the longest trip of his life. "I waited there about four hours and then Miami to [San Pedro Sula]."
When asked if he had slept, Cavallini simply replied “barely.”