Both sitting on zero points after tough losses in their respective Group C openers, Canada and Guadeloupe will be looking for one thing on Saturday night: victory.
There should be no lack of intensity between the Gwada Boys and the Canucks as both sides are desperate for three points that will propel them back into contention for advancement into the knockout stages.
The previous time these two teams met, Guadeloupe shocked Canada 2-1 in the group stage of the 2007 Gold Cup. The small Caribbean nation announced its arrival at the continental championship with that victory four years ago, riding a wave of good results all the way to a semifinal meeting with Mexico — a game they lost just 1-0.
This time around, the Gwada Boys won’t be sneaking up on anyone, least of all a Canadian side that still features many players from that match four years ago.
Stephen Hart’s team will be looking to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to the Americans on Tuesday in which they looked both timid and aggressive in the same game.
The Canucks have rightly set their sights on replicating their play from the second half of that match against the United States, a fast-paced 45 minutes that saw American ‘keeper Tim Howard stand on his head to maintain his clean sheet.
On the defensive end, some questions linger over the play of goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld, and whether now is the time to give newcomer Milan Borjan a start in his first official competition for the Red and White. Hart may also look to freshen up his back four, as the fullbacks struggled against the speed and athleticism of the American side, and Canada can expect a lot of pressure from Guadeloupe on the flanks.
Like Canada, the Gwada Boys’ first match was a tale of two halves. In the opening frame, the Caribbean side looked utterly outclassed by Panama, and by the hour mark they were down by three goals. The final 30 minutes were some of the most frenetic soccer you’ll see this year, with 10-man Guadeloupe storming back to score two in the late stages and put a real scare in their Central American opposition.
Guadeloupe will look to harness some of that late-game energy against Canada, while leaving behind the overt physicality that got them in trouble with the officials.
Canada: Josh Simpson
Arguably Canada’s best player in the opening match, the 28-year-old Turkish-based attacker brings speed and skill to burn, and will look to terrorize Guadeloupe’s right-sided players all night long.
Guadeloupe: Brice Jovial
The striker netted a brace against Panama by simply being a menace up front. Jovial showed that he can mix it up with the opposing defenders, and — more importantly — that he has a knack to be at the right place at the right time.
Canada Projected Starting XI
Borjan; Peters, Hainault, McKenna, de Jong; de Guzman, Hutchinson; Johnson, De Rosario, Simpson; Gerba
Guadeloupe Projected Starting XI
Grandel; Comminges, Lambourde, Viator, Lupede; Collet, Fleurival, Auvray, Loval; Jovial, Socrier