Canada beats World Cup hosts Qatar 2-0 in men’s soccer friendly

Three months after the disastrous June camp was disrupted by a player boycott due to a contract deadlock, one would have expected Canada to be a bit rusty against Qatar on Friday.

Goals by Kyle Larrain and Jonathan David in the first 13 minutes dispelled that as the Canadian men advanced to a comfortable 2-0 win over the World Cup host. Perhaps the only criticism is that Canada, ranked 43rd in the world, could have scored more goals against Qatar, which is ranked 48th.

“We knew the first 20 minutes would be tough, given how well organized and disciplined Qatar is,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “But I think our players rose to the challenge tonight.”

Read more: Herdmann reflects on injuries, form and playing time before Canada plays in the World Cup

Canadians will have an even more serious scrutiny on Tuesday when they take on Uruguay’s No. 13 in Bratislava, Slovakia.

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“This is going to be a tough test,” Herdman said. “But these are the things we dream about. We have been playing against our CONCACAF opponents for four years. All the players have dreamed throughout their careers of playing teams of the stature of Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina. These are the things we have been waiting for.

“For us, it’s a cup final playing against Uruguay, similar to playing against Belgium or Croatia (which Canada will face in Group F in the World Cup). So there’s excitement there. But again we have to temper that with the fact of the quality that they have.” Then we have to put the work into these next three days.”

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Canada’s final preparation for the World Cup is November 17 against Japan No. 24 in Dubai.

Canada dominated long distances from the game on Friday, outsmarting Qatar 13-8 (8-2 on shots on target) with 61 percent of possession.

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Canada wasted a bit of time with Larren scoring in the fourth minute. The Club Brugge striker rose high to head a Sam Adekogobe cross to score his 25th goal in the Canadian men’s in 53 matches.

David doubled the lead in the 13th minute after Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al-Sheeb sent a cross from Kamal Miller, but only for a pair of waiting Canadians. Alphonso Davies fell, losing his foot, trying to get to the ball but David was there to shoot it home to score his 22nd goal in 33 matches in the colors of Canada.

READ MORE: Alphonso Davies in Edmonton to donate World Cup profits to charity

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David, who has signed with adidas, covered the Nike logo on the Canada jersey with his right hand as he celebrated the goal. There has been recent talk on social media about Canada, unlike other teams, not revealing a new World Cup shirt.

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Herdman, perhaps diplomatically, said after the match that he did not notice the celebration.

Canada came close to scoring the third goal with a free kick in the 88th minute, but Ike Ogbo’s header was blocked by the Qatar goalkeeper and Miller’s attempt hit the crossbar.

There was a moment of anxiety in the second half as Davies needed treatment after tangling with Ismail Mohamed in the 57th minute. The Bayern Munich star managed to exit, albeit very cautiously, making way for a substitute.

“I think he’s fine. He was sitting on the bench, smiling. So I think he’s fine,” Herdman said.

David (Junior) Hewlett, who took his 48th title, captained Canada in the absence of injured Atiba Hutchinson.

Friday’s match was the Canadian men’s first against an Asian opponent since November 2016 when they lost 2-0 to South Korea.

The Canadians, who opened the World Cup on November 23 against 2-seeded Belgium, used the wings to attack Qatar’s intense defense.

Canada had 62 percent of possession in the first half. Both sides made changes in the second half, with Herdman sending in Ritchie Laria, Charles Andreas Brin, Ismail Kony, Ogbo, William Millar and Marc Anthony Kay.

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Qatar showed a bigger goal in the second half but couldn’t break through Canada’s defence, showing little in the way of attack.

For the Canadians, the European camp is their first joint encounter since an unlucky June gathering in Vancouver when the players refused to play a friendly against Panama due to a contract dispute. The team put the dead end behind to play with Curacao and Honduras in the CONCACAF Nations League matches on 9 and 13 June. But contract talks are continuing.

Herdmann has other injury concerns with Club Brugge winger Tajon Buchanan likely to play off the bench for Uruguay’s match if he is healthy. Toronto FC defender Donnell Henry, who picked up a hamstring problem on the eve of camp, was with the team but is not expected to see any action. TFC teammate Jonathan Osorio stayed home to deal with a “neurological dysfunction” caused by an elbow attachment in a mid-July MLS game.

Despite the injuries, Herdmann made a strong lineup with Miller, Stephen Vitoria and Alistair Johnston in front of goalkeeper Milan Burgan with Adekogby and Hullit at the center back and Samuel Peet and Stephen Ostaccio in the midfield with Davies, David and Laren leading the attack.

An influential midfield player, Piette often joined Eustaquio in eliminating Qatar’s attacks.

The Canadian, who initially played 11 games, entered a total of 428 games led by Burgan (65) and Peet (62).

© 2022 Canadian Press

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