TORONTO – The journey continues.
The latest Canadian national team squad was announced on Thursday as John Herdman prepares his side for a tricky away fixture against St. Kitts and Nevis on November 18, the penultimate match in Concacaf Nations League Qualification.
After decisive wins over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominica, Canada sit in third place, level with Cuba on a goal-difference of +13, behind only Curacao (+15) and Haiti (+14).
But St. Kitts and Nevis pose a different challenge. Not only are they a higher caliber opponent, who have also won both their matches – over Puerto Rico and Saint Martin, by a combined score of 11-0, but the game will mark the first road Concacaf match for a Herdman-led side.
“It's a game we can't take lightly,” the coach said on a conference call shortly after the announcement. “We've had scouts to both their games; travelled the Caribbean to ensure we collected the tactical footage.”
“They've done well in this Nations League,” Herdman said. “A very good team spirit, well-organized, direct team that will be looking to capitalize in the transition. They have a couple of key players: one that plays in the [English] Championship – [Romaine] Sawyers; others in the lower divisions in England. A hardened, tough team.”
“It's an exciting challenge,” Herdman added. “Our group are going to be tested in some tough conditions.”
Herdman has called in a similar mix of exciting youth and veteran nous that has guided them well through the first two matches, but history has lessons to heed.
When Canada last travelled to Basseterre's Warner Park in 2011 for a FIFA World Cup Qualifier, the result was 0-0. And though they progressed to the next round, Canada ultimately failed to reach the 2014 World Cup. A similar result next week could be just as damaging for the larger plan.
“We've mapped out our strategic approach to the four-year period,” Herdman said. “We know to be ready to qualify for the World Cup you need consistent games against the teams that are ahead of you.”
A top-six finish in qualification will suffice to seal a spot in League A, where the US men’s national team, Mexico, Honduras, Panama, Costa Rica, and Trinidad and Tobago await when the Nations League proper begins next year, but Canada is on a mission.
“[Inclusion in League A] means we'll be playing against those top teams consistently,” Herdman said. “That's important for us: to keep testing ourselves, to get experience in going to those countries and competing in tough environments.”
“It's a process; this is an important step,” added Herdman. “This game is critical. If we drop the ball here, it could cost us later down the road.”
Canada National Team Roster
|GK||Milan Borjan||Red Star Belgrade/SRB|
|GK||Maxime Crepeau||Ottawa Fury|
|GK||Simon Thomas||Kongsvinger IL/NOR|
|D||Samuel Adekugbe||Vålerenga Fotball/NOR|
|D||Zachary Brault-Guillard||Olympique Lyonnais/FRA|
|D||Derek Cornelius||FK Javor Ivanjica/SRB|
|D||David Edgar||Ottawa Fury|
|D||Marcus Godinho||Heart of Midlothian FC/SCO|
|D||Doneil Henry||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|D||Manjrekar James||FC Fredericia/DEN|
|M||Jay Chapman||Toronto FC|
|M||Liam Fraser||Toronto FC|
|M||Atiba Hutchinson||Beşiktaş JK/TUR|
|M||Samuel Piette||Montreal Impact|
|M||Russell Teibert||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|M||David Wotherspoon||St. Johnstone/SCO|
|F||Lucas Cavallini||Puebla FC/MEX|
|F||Jonathan David||KAA Gent/BEL|
|F||Alphonso Davies||Vancouver Whitecaps|
|F||Junior Hoilett||Cardiff City/WAL|
|F||Liam Millar||Liverpool FC U-23/ENG|
|F||Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla||FC Barcelona B/ESP|