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Canada men's national team to play Iceland in US-based friendly in January

The Canada men's national team will start 2020 with a friendly against Iceland in California on January 15th. It will be the program's first January friendly since 2017, when the Canucks beat Bermuda. 

Like the USMNT's January camp, Canada will more than likely be without European-based stars who are in the middle of their seasons. Ditto for Iceland, who are led by Everton's Gylfi Sigurdsson and Augsburg's Alfred Finnbogason.

Canada enjoyed a strong 2019, with a place in the Gold Cup quarterfinals as well as their first win over the USMNT since 1985. All the while, promising youngsters like Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David continue to make progress in their budding young careers.

While friendlies aren't weighed as heavily as competitive matches, a positive result against Iceland could help Canada's World Cup qualifying cause. With a recent change to the qualifying format in Concacaf, the top six nations in the region per the FIFA rankings will go directly to the Hexagonal, awarding three direct berths in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Meanwhile, the winner of a tournament among the remaining Concacaf entrants will play against the fourth-placed team in the Hex for a place in an intercontinental playoff that will award one further spot in the World Cup.

As of the latest FIFA rankings, Canada dropped back to seventh in Concacaf after a brief stay in sixth. Iceland are ranked 39th in the world. After their match against Iceland, Canada will have just the March and June international windows of 2020 to improve their ranking.