Canada were held to a 0-0 draw by Jamaica in World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifying in Kingston Sunday.
The game was played in an empty Independence Park stadium due to local COVID-19 protocols. And Canada’s somewhat lacklustre performance went someway to match the subdued atmosphere of the deserted venue.
But while Canada coach John Herdman admitted his side found it tough going Sunday night, he believes a draw away to last place Jamaica won’t be a bad result when all is said and done.
“We had to be pretty resilient in some areas,” said Herdman after the game. “I think the main thing here is, we’d have loved to take three points here, but we’ve taken two away from Jamaica, added one (point to Canada’s total) and stayed undefeated. It’s not easy to do on the road.”
A first half to forget
The first half passed without incident – both sides seemingly cancelling each other out, with neither able to put a shot on target.
Canada was without some key players due to injury, illness and suspension. Cyle Larin, Atiba Hutchinson, Tajon Buchanan, Richie Laryea, Junior Hoilett and Milan Borjan would all have likely featured if available. And the first half performance suggested Herdman’s squad struggled to adjust to the absences.
Three days previous Canada produced one of its best-ever 45 minute performances in the first half against Mexico at Estadio Azteca. But in the first half in Kingston Sunday, Canada looked disjointed and uninspired.
However, Herdman believes the poor playing surface at Independence Park combined with Jamaica’s style of play also contributed to Canada’s struggles.
“We rely on our buildup strategies,” said Herdman. “We rely on our transitionally work. And you know the Jamaican style. It’s very direct second phase. And then they break your lines. They tailor their style to the conditions here. And I think they did well at that.
“For Canada, we had to adapt. We said we need to get things in behind a bit quicker. And I think that could have been better, particularly the first half. We were just missing those runs in behind that would allow us to be a bit more direct.”
Millar fails to capitalize on Canada’s one big chance
Both sides began the second half better, exchanging half chances. The hosts even saw an attempt hit Canadian keeper Maxime Creapeau’s post early on.
But Liam Millar perhaps should have opened the scoring for Canada in the 60th minute after some good work by Sam Adekugbe and Alphonso Davies on the left. But the Basel FC winger could only side-foot his opportunity straight at Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake from seven yards out.
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Jamaica came close again, desperately hunting their first win of the final round of qualifying. But in the end both teams left Kingston with a point.
“The boys showed that spirit to want to play in their style and their identity and came away with good point,” said Herdman. “I think you’d say it was a good point. We’ll rue missing two. But I think coming out of this, Mexico’s a tough place come and get a point. Jamaica’s tough place to come and get a point.”
Up next in World Cup qualifying
Canada now sits fourth in the Concacaf World Cup qualifying table behind Panama, who visits Toronto to face Canada at BMO Field Wednesday for the third and final game of this international window. Next month Canada hosts Mexico and Costa Rica at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.
And Herdman is looking forward to playing at home again.
“And we’re on our way back home now for three home matches,” he said. “So this is what we’ve been waiting for. We’ll come back and have our fans lift us up and push us through the next three games and finally start making it difficult for our opponents.”
CONCACAF World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying final round