Playing at home for the first time in nearly two years, Canada will begin, on Thursday evening, at BMO Field in Toronto, the final stage of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
Canada will host Honduras for the first 14 matches of the tournament which will see three of the eight teams secure a ticket to Qatar.
Canada’s last outing was at home on October 15, 2019, the night the Canadians won a historic 2-0 victory over the United States in Toronto.
Since then, Maple Leaf representatives have arranged 15 meetings abroad, even those “at home.”
Their performance wasn’t too bad, recording 11 wins and four defeats, including eight consecutive matches in the first and second rounds of the World Cup qualifiers and the start of the season, the Gold Cup.
Needless to say, everyone is motivated as they approach this final stage of the playoffs.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to finally be able to play at home, where there will be fans and friends to see us,” said distinguished Stephen Ostaccio.
For trainer John Herdman, this is something that goes beyond simple sports, and it’s more about the comfort and feeling of finding an old pair of insoles to put us at ease.
“You can feel the energy in the environment. When we came to BMO Field for training, we could tell the difference.
“It’s like when you leave for work and come home: There is no better feeling. You are with yours, and you feel safe.”
To kick off these 14 meetings, Canada will host Honduras on Thursday evening, visit the United States on Sunday and host El Salvador next Wednesday. So he has two out of three matches at home to start his mission off right.
Canada intends to show the same position it had during the first two qualifying rounds, although this time the opponents will be stronger.
“Home games are important, we play at home in front of our own people. Ustaccio insisted that getting points abroad is much more difficult. Having said that, the modus operandi remains the same and we aim for nine points in this window.”
“It’s very important to win our first home game and I think the players understand that,” said John Herdman. We have to send a message and continue to build our confidence.”
With three games in seven nights, Herdmann intends to build on what he did in the previous stages by dividing his team into two subgroups.
“You can’t have players playing 90 minutes three times in six or seven days, but I know some players who will be able to do that, either because of their position or their physical form.”
With a whole team, he feels he has the ingredients to stretch the sauce a bit.
“I think there are four or five teams that have the same depth as us, including Jamaica and Mexico. We can replace one another.”
On Wednesday, the Honduran team complained that a drone had flown over the field during their training.
John Herdman has earned Joannie Rochette’s blessing by skating a lot.
“I imagine there are quite a few people in Canada who have drones.
“With a great team like Honduras, I’m sure a lot of people are interested in what they’re going to do.”
But he concluded with this barely veiled confession, which was accompanied by a smirk. “You have to be very careful in the CONCACAF area, it’s a sensitive place.”
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