Editor's note: Following this story's publication on Thursday evening, CONCACAF ruled early Friday morning that French Guiana's 0-0 draw against Honduras would be officially made a 3-0 forfeit win to Honduras.
FRISCO, Tex. -- It may have seemed unfathomable prior to the 2017 Gold Cup, but Canada enter Friday’s encounter with rival Honduras with a shot of winning Group A (10 pm ET | TSN2 in Canada, FS1, UniMás, UDN).
If the young Canadian side was feeling any pressure about new expectations placed on the group after two encouraging performances, they weren’t showing it.
“It’s a nice group and it’s nice to be around,” said forward Tosaint Ricketts.
“There’s competition. It drives people to always perform better. No one can take a day off. It translates on the field. You’ve seen the results we’ve had and you’ve seen the way we’ve been playing.”
As of Thursday evening, CONCACAF still hadn’t announced what it will do with French Guiana regarding the Florent Malouda matter. The former French international was deemed ineligible by CONCACAF ahead of the tournament, but played anyway in a 0-0 draw against Honduras.
A CONCACAF official said earlier in the day that the disciplinary board was meeting and that there would be a media release later in the day but it has not been issued.
For their part, Canada aren’t even thinking about that.
“We have to approach this game as if we have a dire need of winning or getting a result, depending on how the game evolves,” said head coach Octavio Zambrano. “But we really haven’t spent one minute talking about any kind of possible environment regarding points lost or won for Honduras.”
Easily the talk of the tournament so far has been Alphonso Davies. With three goals in two games, the 16-year-old Vancouver Whitecaps player has provided a spark in the Canadian team not seen in quite some time.
Fans were made to worry a little bit when he came out in the second half of the 1-1 draw with Costa Rica with an apparent ankle injury. He seemed just fine at training Thursday evening but may still be a question mark about whether he’ll start or take a spot as a substitute.
“They are quality guys so how we approach this—we have most of it figured out. We have a couple things we have to do with Alphonso,” admitted Zambrano. “The other one, obviously, is with the minutes played that some of the players have had coming into this match. Two hard games have been played and we have to be smart.”
The fact that the notion of player rotation is even a possibility for Canada is encouraging.
Canada have gotten used to chasing spots in the knockout rounds in previous tournaments and couldn’t afford that luxury so if they can rest a player like Davies from playing 180 minutes in four days and still manage to reach the quarterfinals, they become a team that would have influential players entering those games with plenty of rest.
Canada know Honduras will be coming at them but they are a team eager to show that they have turned the page from having been knocked out of World Cup qualifying by the same team two cycles in a row.
“You know Honduras is going to come out with maximum heart and leave everything on the field,” said Ricketts. “We have a little rivalry with them due to our history so it’s going to be a big one.”