Canada drew 1-1 with Honduras to open the final round of World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying at BMO Field in Toronto Thursday.
The Canadians were the favourites to get off to a winning start to qualifying Thursday, with star players such as Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David expected to shine.
But the hosts produced a mostly disjointed display, underperforming for large stretches of the 90 minutes.
And head coach John Herdman admits it was two points lost rather than one gained.
“It’s sort of a game that you got to sort of take three points at home,” admitted John Herdman Canada head coach after the game. “But we’ll take a point after the performance.”
But Herdman said there were positives to take from the second half.
“Really proud of the resilience they showed in that second half. I think they were able to settle their nerves. We made some tactical changes at half time. And more importantly I think if they can take that spirit and resilience through (that) we’ve seen, this is going to be a great journey for the team.”
A match of two halves and two penalties
Honduras opened the scoring when Alexander López converted a penalty in the 40th minute after Canada’s Tajon Buchanan fouled an attacking Honduran winger. And the visitors went into halftime with the one-goal lead.
Junior Hoillet replaced Buchanan at the start of the second half and Canada seized the initiative in the second half. And Hoillett eventually earned Canada a penalty themselves, which Cyle Larin scored in the 65th minute to equalize.
But that’s as close as Canada would get a victory.
Canada’s “holy shit moment”
And Herdman admitted some of his players learned a lesson Thursday of just how difficult Concacaf World Cup qualifying can be after perhaps incorrectly thinking the team’s recent successes would easily translate to success in World Cup qualifying.
“It was at half time, that’s where they felt it,” said Herdman. “It was almost like coming in at half time, a holy shit moment. Like wow, this is real. I think the fantasy was we were going to get out there and it was going to be a tiki taka evening and we were going to score 15 goals by half time.
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“But the reality was, that Honduran team was well organized. Their medium block, their low block, was tight. They didn’t give anyone an inch. And I thought they thrived on just that lack of chemistry, that lack of cohesion in the first half.”
But Herdman was pleased to see his leaders take charge at the break.
“You heard the leaders speak at half time,” said Herdman. “They really took ownership of what they needed to see. And we made some tactical adjustments.”
“I think you got to see the real potential of this team in the second half.”
Next in World Cup qualifying Canada faces USA in Nashville Sunday while Honduras visits El Salvador the same day.