Super Sunday for Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program

Men’s National Team to take next step on Qatar 2022 journey against Cayman Islands
Men’s U-23 National Team to play for spot at Toyko 2020 Olympic Games

Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team Program have a Super Sunday ahead of them as two National Teams play important matches on the road to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team face Cayman Islands in the Concacaf First Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers while Canada Soccer’s Men’s U-23 National Team face Mexico in a one-match, winner take all showdown for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Both Canada Soccer matches will be broadcast on OneSoccer.ca on Sunday 28 March 2021. The Cayman Islands-Canada match kicks off at 16.00 ET / 13.00 PT (live from Bradenton, FL, USA) while the Mexico-Canada match kicks off 21.00 ET / 18.00 PT (live from Guadalajara, JA, MEX). Fans will find extended coverage across Canada Soccer’s digital channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube featuring the hashtag #CANMNT for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and #canm23 #CMOQ for Concacaf Olympic Qualifying.

#CANMNT | FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team will look to build on its early momentum on the road to Qatar 2022. The Canadian squad will look to build on their 5:1 win over Bermuda in the opening match of Group B in the Concacaf First Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers this past Thursday in Orlando. Cyle Larin scored a hat trick, Alphonso Davies had three assists, and both Richie Laryea and teenage debutant Theo Corbeanu scored their first international goals for Canada.

“We’ve been focusing one game at a time on this journey”, said Head Coach John Herdman. “We expect this opponent is going to be very different to Bermuda and we expect that they will be very compact and very difficult to break down. We have a set of players that have a clear mission and they have been tuning in and preparing for this opportunity. We will count on the energy and enthusiasm from the players that will get a chance in this match.” 

The Sunday match will mark the first time Canada meets Cayman Islands at the international “A” level. It will also be Canada’s second of four matches as part of the Concacaf First Round of Qualifiers. Canada will complete Group B play with matches against Aruba on 5 June and Suriname on 8 June. With every result critical to the campaign, the Canadian group remains focused on taking on the long journey one match at a time.

Cayman Islands competed in Concacaf Nations League C in 2019-20 where they finished tied for first place with Barbados, narrowly losing out on promotion due to a weaker goal difference after a positive campaign which saw them earn four wins against two losses across the six match group stage. Cayman Islands opened it’s Qatar 2022 qualifying campaign with 0:3 away loss to Suriname on Wednesday 24 March.

From the First Round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers, the Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a Second Round, head-to-head series on 12 and 15 June 2021. The winner from that Second Round then advances to the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations in which each nation will play each opponent twice (once at home and once on the road).

“There is no margin for error in this First Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “These matches can be tricky, so you have to be very careful, especially around any type of action that the opponent can put your team in trouble. We want to make our mark in Concacaf and get through the First Round with four wins, but we will take it one match at a time and we will be ready for Sunday against Cayman Islands.”

Concacaf have established Canada’s pathway for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers beginning with a First Round being played amongst the Concacaf Member Associations ranked 6-35 based on the FIFA Men’s Ranking as of 16 July 2020. From the first round of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Qualifiers, the Group B winner will face the Group E winner in a second-round, head-to-head series. The winner from that second round then advances to the Concacaf Final Round of eight nations in which each nation will play each opponent twice (once at home and once on the road).

#canm23 #CMOQ | CONCACAF MEN’S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING
Canada will face the host Mexico in Mexico with a spot in the Olympic Games on the line. It’s a historic opportunity for the young Canadian team as no men’s youth team has ever qualified for the Olympic Games and the Men’s National Team Program team has yet to beat Mexico in Mexico in a competitive match.

“We’re just 90 minutes away from the Olympic Games and regardless of the opponent that we are facing, it is just the one match,” said Canada goalkeeper James Pantemis. “If we put everything out there, we leave it all out on the pitch and guys are playing for each other and working together, then we have a chance to make history and make Canada proud.”

Both Canada and Mexico are unbeaten in Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying, with Mexico the Group A winners after a perfect 3-0-0 group stage and Canada the Group B runners up after posting a 1-2-0 record, including a 1:1 draw against group winners Honduras who won the group with one more goal scored.

The group stage at Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying provided Canada’s young players with the opportunity to face three tough Concacaf opponents who they may also face in the coming year in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and the Concacaf Gold Cup at the international “A” level. Through an aligned Men’s National Team Program, this international tournament experience against El Salvador, Haiti and Honduras is an important next step for Canada’s young players on their journey to the Men’s National Team.

The competition also provided depth to the Men’s National Team Program as several young professional players were unavailable for Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying, whether they were called into the Men’s National Team for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers or were unavailable for the whole tournament because the pre-tournament camp and opening match fell outside the FIFA International Calendar. In all, there were nine age-eligible players born 1997 or later who took part in FIFA World Cup Qualifiers this month, which for the first time ever coincided with Canada’s Olympic Qualifying campaign.

“Anytime you play against Mexico, you are going to be a better team after that,” said Mauro Biello, Canada Soccer’s Men’s Olympic National Team. “This will be a big challenge for us, but the way this team has been fighting and the way this team has been playing defensively, I think we can build from that. It’s one match and we will be ready for it.”

This marks the fourth cycle in a row that Canada have reached the Semifinals in Concacaf Men’s Olympic Qualifying (2008, 2012, 2015, 2021), with only Honduras’ streak longer at five cycles (since 2004). Canada were Olympic champions in 1904, hosted the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in 1976, and reached the Quarter-finals of the Olympic Games in 1984 with a senior team that qualified for the FIFA World Cup just one year later. Along with the men’s senior team in 1976 and 1984, the women’s senior team has qualified for four-straight Olympic Games from 2008 to 2021. In Concacaf Women’s Olympic Qualifying in 2008, Canada beat Mexico in Mexico to qualify for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.

CANADA SOCCER’S MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM PROGRAM
Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team, two-time Concacaf champions, were one of only four nations that have finished top-six across all three of Concacaf major tournaments across the past three years: fifth place in Concacaf Nations League A and sixth place at both the 2017 and 2019 Concacaf Gold Cups. In 2019 against Concacaf’s top three nations, Canada earned a victory against USA in Concacaf Nations League as well as eliminated both Mexico (U-15) and Costa Rica (U-17) in Concacaf youth competitions.

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