Canada will look to its two star forwards in its upcoming first-round Concacaf 2022 Qatar World Cup qualifier matches, according to head coach John Herdman.
Canada plays Aruba Saturday, June 5 and Suriname Tuesday, June 8 in the final Group B games. And Canada expects to advance to the next round of qualifying, boasting such talented attackers as Jonathan David and Cyle Larin.
“It’s exciting to have that sort of firepower,” said Herdman, during a media availability Saturday. “I think the simplicity is, (they’re) two men that know how to score goals. It’s about, I think, the supporting cast. And then finding ways to allow them to use the spaces they need to use to create those moments.”
David scored 13 league goals for Lille this season, helping the French club win Ligue 1 for the first time since 2011. Cyle Larin tallied 23 times, in all competitions, for Turkish champions Beşiktaş this season.
And it sounds like Herdman will find a place in his starting eleven for both players as he hopes they’ll be able to transfer their club success to the national side.
“I think what you’ve seen, particularly with Cyle (Larin), he has a different instinct to Jonathan (David) in the box,” said Herdman. “I think Jonathan has more flexibility in the way he can play out wide, central, play off players.”
“I think Cyle, for us, is that ultimate predator. He’s person you really need to get service to. And we’ll find those ways.”
Canada’s roster depth important over next two weeks
If Canada are successful in the upcoming pair of matches, they advance to play the winner of Group E in a two-legged playoff June 12 and 15 to determine who advances to the eight-team final round of Concacaf World Cup qualifying, known as the Octagonal or Octagon.
And Herdman believes his squad has the depth to manage such a tight turnaround of four matches in two weeks.
“You’ve got that depth” said Herdman. “And we’ve got four matches, potentially here. And Canada will need depth across four games.”
“It’s a strong squad. It’s an exciting group. We’ve got that flair. We’ve got pace. We’ve got power.”
Herdman admits the squad may lack experience in some areas. But he believes these are the type of games to gain experience. And he’s sure the roster’s quality is good enough to progress to the final round of qualifying.
CONCACAF 2022 World Cup qualifying Group B
“The experience, if you look at the caps, some will think, may be lacking that sort of experience,” said Herdman. “I think these games (are) what this team needs. It’s that growth in Concacaf together. I’m excited to bring it and unleash it in these two matches.”
Players given a break before camp
While Herdman is confident his squad can handle four games in such quick succession, he felt in necessary to give his players a break before arriving at camp.
He recognized how tough the last year has been, both professionally and personally. So, he gave his players at least a week of personal time before switching from club duty to national duty.
“This has been a brutal season for many of these players,” said Herdman. “Letting them have that time as a dad or a partner or a husband. They’ve had a little bit of break to re-energize, to refocus, and then to come in and take care of business.”