Sporting brand new jerseys, and a newly discovered sense of optimism, Canada will play Mexico in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifier match in Vancouver Friday.
BC Place is nearly sold-out for the match – over 50,000 tickets have already been reportedly sold. This will be the largest crowd to have ever watched a World Cup qualifier in Canada.
Canada currently sit in second place in Group A of the fourth round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, behind Mexico and ahead of El Salvador and Honduras. The top two teams in the group will progress to the fifth and final round along with four other teams.
“I think today we aren’t concerned about getting positive results, we want to win.”
– Julian de Guzman, Canada captain
Canada haven’t advanced to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying since the 1998 World Cup.
“Such a big crowd is very important for Canadian soccer,” said Canada’s head coach Benito Floro, speaking to Canada Soccer. “We had great support for our last match (a 1-0 victory over Honduras in November) and it was a very nice experience for everyone, so we must continue that with the upcoming match against Mexico.”
On Monday the two teams meet again at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Canada close out the group with games against El Salvador and Honduras in September.
On paper, the two matches against Mexico were going to be the most difficult of the round for Canada. But thanks to decent performances against El Salvador and Honduras, from which they earned four points, there’s a hint of optimism not historically present in Canadian men’s national soccer teams.
The likes of striker Cyle Larin, last season’s breakout star in Major League Soccer and this season’s current top goal scorer, and captain Julian de Guzman are heading into these two games with confidence that they can get something from one or both.
“It’s going to be very difficult, but it’s not impossible,” said Canadian captain De Guzman, speaking to wakingthered.com. “We are playing against a top team, but we have been able to produce positive results at home. I think today we aren’t concerned about getting positive results, we want to win.”
“Just one game at home could change futures for Canadian soccer,” de Guzman added.
“Everyone wants Canada to play well and hopefully we can get a result for our supporters,” added Floro.
The supporters will have to wait and see if this coming Friday will indeed be a Good Friday for Floro and his squad.
Canada vs Mexico will be broadcast live on TSN2 at 22.00 ET / 19.00 PT Friday, March 25. The following game, Mexico vs Canada, will be broadcast live on TSN2 at 22.30 ET / 19.30 PT Tuesday, March 29.
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