Qatar 0-2 CanMNT — International Friendly — Canadian Premier League
Final score: Qatar 0-2 Canada
Scorers: Larin 4′, David 13′
Match in a minute or less
Canada’s Men’s National Team returned to action in an international friendly against World Cup hosts Qatar in Vienna, Austria and impressed en route to a 2-0 aggregate victory .
Canada came through with flying colors, scoring twice in the first 13 minutes of the match. First, it was Cyle Larin who came in from close range to take his scoring record for Canada to 25. Jonathan David then doubled the lead in the 13th minute, putting him level with Dwayne De Rosario for the second all-time among men. national team goalscorer with his 22nd.
That first two-goal lead kept Canada fairly comfortable for the rest of the 90 minutes. Milan Borjan kept a clean sheet, making some solid saves despite only being tested twice.
The game was Canada’s first victory against a non-Concacaf opponent since John Herdman’s first game in charge of the national team in 2018, a 1-0 victory against New Zealand in a friendly played in Spain. This victory will give them confidence for a friendly match against Uruguay on Tuesday.
A quick start sets the stage for a dominating performance from Canada
It had been several months since Canada had played a truly competitive game. A tumultuous June window saw them play against outclassed Curacao at home before a game in incredibly inclement weather against Honduras that really didn’t benefit the team much in terms of preparation.
Qatar, meanwhile, have spent a lot of time together preparing for their first-ever World Cup appearance, one that will come with the pressure of being hosts, no less. They have played 12 official and unofficial games since Canada last played in June.
Early in the game, however, it was Qatar who seemed unprepared for the intensity and quality of Canada who took a 2-0 lead in 13 minutes. Cyle Larin and then Jonathan David quickly found the back of the net and John Herdman said Qatar seemed “unsettled” by how quickly Canada put them under pressure.
“I enjoyed it,” Herdman told the media after the game. “To leave Canada and Concacaf, it’s been four years, and to play against a team like Qatar, which we know is a prepared and organized team, I was happy with the performance. clean sheet, it was good.And in attack, we managed to break their block and we showed this quality.
Canada was excellent in all aspects of their performance. They held the ball well, had eight shots on target and could easily have scored more goals, while limiting Qatar to just two shots.
Defensively, they were excellent at limiting transition moments in which Qatar could hurt them. This included several quick and alert players to get back into position, and a lot of hard work all over the pitch, including from forwards like David and Larin who also made big defensive moves.
A matter of concern for Canada came late in the second half, when Alphonso Davies limped off the field after facing a difficult challenge. Herdman said after the game, however, that the plan was still to have him removed at that point and that there was nothing too long-term to worry about.
Double pivot Samuel Piette-Stephen Eustáquio impresses with missing midfielders
Coming into this camp, one of the biggest questions about Canada’s National Men’s Team came from midfield. With props Atiba Hutchinson and Jonathan Osorio both out through injury, and Mark-Anthony Kaye not playing regular minutes lately, Herdman opted to go with a central midfield duo of Stephen Eustáquio and Samuel Piette.
From the opening whistle, the pair impressed, showing an ability to move the ball upfield quickly and forward into dangerous areas which helped build up the first goal. They continued like this throughout the game, and as they got more comfortable with their assignments, Eustáquio often pushed further while Piette did a great job of screening the back three.
“I think we did a good job of moving the ball,” Piette said, “it wasn’t the easiest ground to play, but we were able to find the outlets, be it Kamal [Miller] or Alistair [Johnston] on the side and have these exchanges. Or our key players on the wing who are able to make a difference with combos or just one-on-one. We have a great relationship off the pitch, and I think that showed today on the pitch.
Defensively, they were both excellent at making recovery runs to thwart a Qatar side that presented a constant threat in transition. The drive and commitment to come back was key to ensuring Canada was rarely outnumbered in defensive situations.
With that in mind, Eustáquio and Piette were also incredibly smart with where and when they played passes, knowing that a misplaced pass could easily turn into a chance the other way. Both players set the tone in Canada’s impressive possession game, as they had 61% of the ball and completed 92% of their 635 passes.
Both players have been excellent with their teams this season. Eustáquio found consistent playing time in Porto’s midfield, including appearances in the UEFA Champions League. Piette, meanwhile, has always been reliable defensively and solid if unspectacular in possession. This year with CF Montreal, however, he added a more attacking aspect to his game, with his ability to drive the ball forward in this game as well.
As Piette mentioned, the midfielders also received key numerical support in attack as one of Miller or Johnston often moved forward from the centre-back to give them more passing options.
Yet another CF Montreal player, Ismaël Koné, also impressed off the bench in midfield after replacing Piette. From the moment the 20-year-old stepped onto the pitch, he looked to advance the ball quickly which provided good chances.
The health of Hutchinson and Osorio will both be big stories leading up to the World Cup for obvious reasons. But on Friday, Canada showed it had several options in that position that would make it competitive.
Captain Junior Hoilett shows quality in new position as Canada add full-back options
When John Herdman was asked before this camp why he named a team with ten players listed as forwards, he hinted that some of those players might appear in new positions.
Veteran winger Junior Hoilett was one such player against Qatar, who received the captain’s armband and played 90 minutes as a winger. It’s a position Hoilett has played significantly of late with Reading in the Championship, but rarely with the national team where he has been favored further.
“I think he’s one of the smartest footballers I’ve worked with, he’s a gift in terms of quality, awareness and understanding,” Herdman said after the game. “I think what happened at Reading is he played nine teams, about 90 minutes each game. He hasn’t done that for a while in his career. It’s the most in shape that I saw Junior Hoilett.
He mentioned that, especially with Richie Laryea not in season with Toronto FC at the start of the World Cup, and the fact that he would prefer to play Davies further forward, the winger is a position where Canada needs more depth. Hoillett is one of those players who gives him an option in this position.
“He gave us adaptability,” Herdman said. “In the wide areas, we don’t have a great depth there, unless we start bringing Alphonso [Davies] get out of our front line. So Junior gives us this opportunity to, first of all, give us flexibility. It has a different profile [Richie] Laryea or [Sam Adekugbe]. He has experience and defending in the league is not easy. If you take a look at some of his stats, he’s in the higher percentiles for his tackle ability.
From that wide space, Hoilett was able to drift inside and create chances, as he did on Canada’s first goal, while giving his team a good outlet in transition. Especially against teams like Qatar who stay on the sidelines, he could be a real weapon for Canada in this position.
Another player who impressed during the game at winger was substitute Liam Millar. The 22-year-old Basel striker is likely on the fringes of Canada’s World Cup squad, but he impressed heavily in this game, showing his willingness to beat players in wide areas.
CanPL.ca Player of the match
Stephen Eustaquio, Canada
In 74 minutes of action, Eustáquio was once again at the center of Canada controlling the tempo of the match in the middle of the park. The team showed an ability to hold the ball and break through a solid opponent, led by their midfield maestro.
An even greater test awaits Canada’s Men’s National Team as they take on Uruguay in Slovakia on Tuesday, September 27 (12:00 p.m. ET/ 9:00 a.m. PT) in another international friendly.
Watch all matches live on OneSoccer. In addition to its website and app, OneSoccer is now available on TELUS channel 980 and Fubo TV. Call your local cable provider to request OneSoccer today.