Canada Soccer announced their 20-player roster for Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Wednesday. The squad will travel to Guadalajara, Mexico for the eight-team tournament March 18-30, 2021, hoping to reach the Tokyo games this summer.
The men’s squad is made up of U23 players, as per Olympic Games rules.
“This is a great opportunity for Canada and the Men’s National Team Program to have this chance to qualify for the Olympic Games through Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying,” said Mauro Biello, Canada Soccer’s Men’s Olympic National Team Coach. “We are in a competitive group ahead of a difficult knockout stage, but we have a chance to do something special with this group of young players.”
The full roster:
- GK- James Pantemis | CAN / CF Montréal
- FB- Zachary Brault-Guillard | CAN / CF Montréal
- FB- Zorhan Bassong | CAN / CF Montréal
- CB- Thomas Meilleur-Giguère | CAN / Pacific FC
- CB- Derek Cornelius | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- M- Michael Baldisimo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- F- Tajon Buchanan | USA / New England Revolution
- M- David Norman | CAN / Cavalry FC
- F- Charles-Andreas Brym | BEL / Royal Mouscron
- M- Aidan Daniels | USA / Oklahoma City Energy
- F- Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla | CAN / CF Montréal
- F- Kris Twardek | POL / Jagiellonia Białystok
- FB- Marcus Godinho | GER / FSV Zwickau
- M- Ryan Raposo | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- F- Theo Bair | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- CB- Callum Montgomery | USA / Minnesota United FC
- M- Patrick Metcalfe | CAN / Vancouver Whitecaps FC
- GK- Matthew Nogueira | POR / CS Maritimo
- GK- Sebastian Breza | ITA / FC Bologna
- AM- Lucas Dias | POR / Sporting CP U-23
Full Canada Soccer statement
Canada’s squad will prepare for the competition with an opportunity to become the first Canadian youth team to ever qualify for an Olympic Games. Only players born 1997 or later are eligible for the qualifying tournament, whereas the Olympic Games may feature up to three overage players. Unlike previous qualifying campaigns, nations may only feature 17 outfield players (instead of 18) and three goalkeepers.
Both Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying and the Olympic Games were originally scheduled for 2020, but postponed because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. As such, both Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying and the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers featuring Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team will be played at the same time in March 2021.
In the Concacaf group phase, Canada will face El Salvador on 19 March (16.00 local / 18.00 ET / 15.00 PT), Haiti on 22 March (16.00 local / 18.00 ET / 15.00 PT), and Honduras on 25 March (19.30 local / 21.30 ET / 18.30 PT). Every Canada match at the tournament will be broadcast live on OneSoccer with extended coverage throughout the tournament on Canada Soccer’s digital channels including Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter featuring the social media hashtags #canm23 and #CMOQ.
Through an aligned Men’s National Team Program, Canada’s 20-player squad will feature 10 players with Men’s National Team experience, including recent Canadian Youth International Players of the Year Derek Cornelius (2018) and Tajon Buchanan (2020) as well as former Canadian U-20 Players of the Year Ballou Tabla (2016) and Kris Twardek (2017).
Other players with Men’s National Team experience are James Pantemis, Theo Bair, Zorhan Bassong, Zachary Brault-Guillard, Charles-Andreas Brym, and Marcus Godinho. Sebastian Breza, Matthew Nogueira, Michael Baldisimo, Aidan Daniels, Thomas Meilleur-Giguère, David Norman, and Ryan Raposo all have youth teams experience while Lucas Dias, Patrick Metcalfe and Callum Montgomery will all feature in Canada’s youth team program for the first time.
Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament is an important next step for Canada’s young players on their journey to the Men’s National Team. The competition provides players with a chance to gain valuable international experience as part of their progress to the Men’s National Team. As an all-in-one qualifying campaign with both a pre-camp and a match that falls just outside the FIFA window, several players were not eligible for the official competition because they would not be released by their professional clubs. Nations are not allowed to replace players once the competition begins, with the exception of injured players who can be replaced before the opening match.
Unlike the last Concacaf tournament in 2015, only two (not three) nations advance beyond the Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying tournament, so the Concacaf Semifinals on 28 March will be Canada’s one-and-only opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games. Canada have reached the Concacaf Semifinals in each of the last three cycles (2008, 2012, 2015), but have not qualified for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament since Los Angeles 1984 when they reached the Quarterfinals (which at the time featured the full “A” team). That same 1984 Canadian team qualified for the FIFA World Cup just a year later for Mexico 1986.
“The Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament provides Canada with the chance to continue the success of an aligned Men’s National Team Program,” said Biello. “This is an opportunity for our young players to help Canada qualify for the Olympic Games and gain experience on their journey to the Men’s National Team.”