SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras – The slight glimmer of hope remaining in Canada’s dwindling World Cup Qualifying chances may very well have been preserved by goalkeeper Milan Borjan.
The 2-1 defeat to Honduras on Friday certainly served a sizable setback for the Canadians, but the narrow margin was the best possible outcome considering the losing effort. Borjan was largely responsible for keeping the game so close, finishing with five saves and alertly coming off his line repeatedly to intercept and clear dangerous through balls.
“Borjan was good because he stopped a lot of scoring chances and possible chances for the opponents,” said head coach Benito Floro of his starting netminder, who doesn’t get much playing time with Bulgaria’s Ludogorets.
The math is now simple for Canada on Tuesday: They have to beat El Salvador at home, Honduras have to lose to Mexico at Estadio Azteca, and the goal swing has to be more than five in order for Floro's men to advance to the final round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying for the first time since the 1998 cycle.
Overcoming a five-goal margin is certainly possible, but Canada still have to do their part by winning at home. If they get another outing from Borjan like the one he put forth on Friday, the Canadians should be in position to prevail.
“100 percent Borjan’s performance gives us a chance in Vancouver,” said midfielder Scott Arfield. “We just had a chat in there and we’re very much still in this. We came here to win the game and if you don’t win it then try to draw. We were disappointed with that [result] but it was the best worst-case scenario for us.”
When a team’s World Cup hopes are hanging by a thread, any sliver of optimism will be pounced upon. Borjan’s 90-minute shift has given Canada reason to believe for at least for a few more days.
Still, Borjan can only do so much. Goals are needed, and Canada's attackers will have to do more than they did vs. Honduras.
“We have to go out and score. We have to take our chances," said midfielder David Edgar. "We’ve said it I don’t know how many times: we’ve got to take our chances. But this is it. We have to score goals.”