The Canada national team edged a game Saint Kitts and Nevis side 1-0 at Warner Park in Basseterre on Sunday night to stay perfect in their Concacaf Nations League qualifying campaign, a thumping header from veteran Atiba Hutchinson proving just enough to bank a victory over the rugged hosts.
Les Rouges' finishing let them down on several occasions and they were snakebitten on a few others. Yet it's mission accomplished for coach John Herdman and his squad, who calmly managed a tricky opponent on a scruffy playing surface far from home and are now looking like a solid bet to advance to the CNL proper and book their spot in the 2019 Gold Cup.
Led by former MLSer Atiba Harris and Romaine Sawyers, who plays his club ball for English Championship side Brentford FC, the islanders got off to a stronger start. But "The Sugar Boyz" rarely troubled CanMNT goalkeeper Milan Borjan in the final third and were punished when Vancouver Whitecaps veteran Russell Teibert served up a pinpoint cross from the left flank that Hutchinson firmly dispatched into the net just before halftime.
Hutchinson was unlucky to see SKN 'keeper Julanni Archibald block his point-blank-range backheel early in the second half and Jonathan David later clanged an angled shot off the woodwork, forcing the visitors to sweat out the full 90-plus minutes. But Saint Kitts and Nevis were unable to breach their defense and Canada will fly home with three points in hand.
- 44' – CAN – Atiba Hutchinson
- THE BIG PICTURE: Tropical nights like this highlight both the charms and the challenges of Concacaf play, and everyone in and around the CanMNT program will be more than happy to head home not only with a victory, but without any apparent injuries or other issues.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Teibert’s match-winning connection with Hutchinson was a reminder of these two dedicated servants’ value to Les Rouges.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Hutchinson got the goal and Alphonso Davies dominated the attention of SKN and their fans. Yet it was the hard-working, tempo-setting Rusty Teibert who most deserves MOTM honors.
- CAN: Tuesday, March 26 vs. French Guiana
- SKN: Saturday, March 23 at Suriname