Canada vs. Moldova
Tuesday, May 27, 11:30 am ET
Stadion SVU Mauer - Mauer, Austria
No TV coverage
Canadian national team fans have become accustomed to celebrating moral victories. But on Tuesday, they’re hoping to finally be celebrating a real one.
Benito Floro’s squad will take on Moldova in its second international friendly of an ongoing training camp based in Austria. On Friday against Bulgaria, Les Rouges snapped a 10-game goalscoring drought when Atiba Hutchinson converted from the penalty spot in a 1-1 draw (watch highlights here).
The next drought they’re hoping to erase is a 15-game string of international fixtures without a victory, dating back to a 3-0 decision over Cuba on Oct. 12, 2012. But Canadian fans have also learned – the hard way – that no opponent can be overlooked, and despite Moldova’s lack of marquee names, their recent results suggest a tough fight is in the cards on Tuesday.
Moldova come into the game on a two-game win streak, having thumped Saudi Arabia 4-0 in a friendly on Saturday after a 3-0 win over lowly Andorra in March. The squad has been competitive against a wide variety of European opposition over the past 18 months and, it’s worth noting, sits 11 spots ahead of Canada (No. 110) in the most recent FIFA rankings.
Floro will have to decide whether to rely on veterans such as Hutchinson and Julian de Guzman to pursue a rare victory, or to give up-and-comers such as Samuel Piette and Keven Aleman a chance to prove themselves. Either way, he’ll surely be aware that another result against a UEFA opponent would do wonders in the next round of FIFA rankings – which will become increasingly important as the early qualifying stages for the 2018 World Cup creep closer.
Here’s some history: Last December marked the first-ever meeting in Ottawa between the foreign ministers of Moldova and Canada, with the politicians agreeing – according to a government press release – that establishing a Moldovan embassy in Canada would be great news for both countries.
Oh, you meant soccer history? None. This is the first meeting between the senior men’s teams of the two nations.
While Canada did well to hold on for a draw against the Bulgarians on Friday, the team noticeably wilted as the game shifted into its latter stages, leaving many questions as to Floro’s roster selection against Moldova.
One key decision will be on the backline, as David Edgar – who played the full 90 against Bulgaria – is getting married and left camp on Saturday. His replacement could very well be 20-year-old Daniel Stanese, who is a regular starter for FC Augsburg’s reserve squad but has yet to earn a cap for Canada’s senior team.
Another interesting decision will be in goal. Veteran 'keeper Milan Borjan performed well against Bulgaria, despite a lack of recent game action. He’ll want to use this camp to audition for a job with a new club, a situation that isn’t new for Canadian internationals. But pressing him for the start will be 23-year-old Roberto Stillo, who has been itching for years to earn his first senior cap for his country.
Vancouver Whitecaps youngster Bryce Alderson may be unavailable for Canada, as he was kept off the matchday roster against Bulgaria with what the Canadian Soccer Association called a “slight knock.”
Moldova have had an active 2014 so far, with Tuesday’s match being their sixth friendly of the year. Their record thus far is two wins and three losses, with the wins over Saudi Arabia and Andorra being preceded by one-goal defeats against Norway, Sweden and Poland.
The team had a respectable World Cup qualifying campaign, concluding with a fifth-place finish in a difficult Group H in UEFA. That campaign included a surprising 5-2 win over Montenegro, and a pair of draws against Poland and Ukraine.
The majority of players on the 23-man roster play in Moldova’s domestic league, with nine playing in Russia and one (Artur Ioniță) competing in the Swiss Super League.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Canada – Randy Edwini-Bonsu
The 24-year-old, who was with the Vancouver Whitecaps organization until 2010 and currently plays his club soccer in Germany, has something to prove. Despite regular appearances at the youth levels for Canada, he’s played just four times for the senior side over the past five years, and is searching for his first goal for the team.
The speedster had several good chances against Bulgaria, and is likely to get another chance against Moldova as Canada searches for its first goal from open play since March 2013.
Moldova – Eugen Sidorenco
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder, who plays his club soccer for FC Khimiz Dzerzhinsk in Russia, has been Moldova’s hottest scorer in the last 12 months, potting six goals in 12 games.
His recent form has lifted him more than halfway to the title of all-time top scorer for Moldova (a crown currently held by the retired Serghei Clescenco, with 11), and has him tied as the most prolific scorer on Moldova’s current roster. (However, while it took 59 caps for Alexandru Epureanu to score six times, Sidorenco has done it in only 16 career games.)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Milan Borjan (unattached); Roberto Stillo (AC Perugia/Italy); Ricky Gomes (Uniao Mentamor/Portugal)
DEFENDERS (8): Nik Ledgerwood (MSV Duisburg/Germany); Jérémy Gagnon-Laparé (Montreal Impact); Andre Hainault (VfR Aalen/Germany); Adam Straith (Wehen Weisbaden/Germany); Daniel Stanese (FC Augsburg II/Germany); Manjrekar James (PMFC Matias/Hungary); Luca Gasparotto (Rangers/Scotland); Jackson Farmer (Vancouver Whitecaps U-23)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Julian de Guzman (Skoda Xanthi/Greece); Pedro Pacheco (CD Santa Clara/Portugal); Samuel Piette (Fortuna Dusseldorf/Germany); Keven Aleman (Real Valladolid/Spain); Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas/Turkey); Bryce Alderson (Vancouver Whitecaps); Randy Edwini-Bonsu (Stuttgarter Kickers); Daniel Haber (Apollon Limassol), Ben Fisk (unattached)
FORWARDS (3): Tosaint Ricketts (Bucaspor/Turkey); Simeon Jackson (Millwall/England); Cyle Larin (University of Connecticut)
GOALKEEPERS (3): Stanislav Namașco (Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol/Moldova); Artiom Gaiduchevici (Veris Chișinău/Moldova); Ilie Cebanu (Tom Tomsk/Russia)
DEFENDERS (7): Alexandru Epureanu (Anzhi Makhachkala/Russia); Victor Golovatenco (Sibir Novosibirsk/Russia); Vitalie Bordian (Volga Nizhny Novgorod/Russia); Igor Armas (Kuban Krasnodar/Russia); Petru Racu (Veris Chisinau/Moldova); Veaceslav Posmac (Dacia Chisinau/Moldova); Adrian Cascaval (Veris Chisinau/Moldova)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Alexandru Gatcan (Rostov/Russia); Eugeniu Cebotaru (Sibir Novosibirsk/Russia); Alexandru Dedov (Zimbru Chisinau/Moldova); Eugen Sidorenco (Khimik Dzerzhinsk/Russia); Artur Patras (Milsami Orhei/Moldova); Serghei Gheorghiev (Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol/Moldova); Artur Ionita (Aarau/Switzerland); Maxim Antoniuc (Veris Chisinau/Moldova); Daniel Pisla (Tiraspol/Moldova)
FORWARDS (4): Serghei Alexeev (Veris Chisinau/Moldova); Igor Picusceac (Amkar Perm/Russia); Alexandru Antoniuc (Veris Chisinau/Moldova); Henrique Luvannor (Sheriff Tiraspol)