Canada to face Caribbean trio in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying

Michael Petrasso, Schaquille Dutard - Canada, French Guiana - race for the ball

The Canadian national team received their next international assignments on Wednesday, as Concacaf released the details of its new Nations League competition

Starting in September and running through March of next year, new coach John Herdman will lead Les Rouges into battle against four small Caribbean nations as part of the qualifying process for the Nations League, which also doubles as the qualification road for participation in the 2019 Gold Cup as well as future editions of that tournament.

Canada will visit the US Virgin Islands for an away match in September, then face Dominica at home in October, travel to St. Kitts & Nevis in November and conclude the qualifying process at home vs. French Guiana in March 2019.

“It is a completely new landscape, but it gives Canada the chance to be on the starting line as everyone goes through the same process,” said Herdman in a Canada Soccer release. “We can use the program to our advantage because there is something important to becoming experts within Concacaf and building towards the bigger matches.” 

All four matches will be scheduled during the four FIFA match windows in those months. The precise dates, kickoff times and venues for those games, as well as all 68 Nations League qualifying matches, will be announced by the respective member associations in the days to come. Concacaf released an explanatory video to further elucidate the qualifying process:

The top six finishers in Nations League qualifying will book their places in the A, or top division, of the Nations League, joining Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago and the United States, who are already slotted into the top flight by virtue of having reached the final round of Concacaf 2018 World Cup qualifying, better known as the Hexagonal. The rest of the qualifying field will be grouped into the Nations League's B and C divisions, based on results. 

The top 10 finishers in Nations League qualifying will earn a place in next year's Gold Cup, which was recently expanded from 12 teams to 16 teams. There they will be grouped with the aforementioned six 2018 Hexagonal participants, who have also already booked spots in the Gold Cup.

“Our two home matches will again provide our men’s national team with a chance to connect with the country,” said Herdman. “These are not friendly matches, but meaningful matches for which we need to mobilize our fans and create a fortress for Canada at home.”