FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers Canada vs. Honduras September 2, 2021 at 8:00 pm ET BMO Field, Toronto, Ontario Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca // Tickets available here

"Every game we play at home is going to be seen as a home win, wherever we're at in Canada, it's got to become a fortress, and I think the players understand that."

The mindset is clear for John Herdman and his Canadian Men's National Team as they get set to begin their World Cup qualifying campaign Thursday evening against Honduras at BMO Field in Toronto.

Both nation's last competitive action came during last month's Gold Cup knockout round against Mexico. Honduras fell 3-0 to El Tri in the quarterfinal on July 24 before Canada lost in heartbreaking fashion five days later in the semifinal — Hector Herrera scored in the ninth minute of added time to give the Mexicans a 2-1 victory.

CF Montreal forward Romell Quioto led the way for the Hondurans offensively in the Gold Cup, his three goals during the Group stage the most on his side. Other key figures in the Honduran squad North American soccer fans will recognize include Bryan Acosta (FC Dallas), Boniek Garcia (Houston Dynamo) and team captain Maynor Figueroa (Houston Dynamo).

Herdman has called arguably the deepest and most impressive Canadian squad the Men's program has ever seen into camp for this three-match international window. Veterans Atiba Hutchinson, Milan Borjan and two man attacking tandem Alphonso Davies and Jonathan David are back with Les Rouges after missing out on last month's Gold Cup. Add in Gold Cup breakout stars Tajon Buchanan and Stephen Eustaqiuo and the core of this Canadian group will have supporters of this side as excited as they've been in recent memory ahead of this next week of action.

With the first touch of a ball in Toronto as a group earlier this week, the atmosphere was felt by all on the pitch a day out from the Honduras match according to Herdman: "You feel the energy in the environment... as soon as the guys stepped onto BMO Field for the Monday training, it's just a different energy."

"You feel safe, you feel in a country where this is your home."

Midfielder Stephen Eustaquio, meanwhile, is one of several Canadian players set to make a debut on Canadian soil.

The last time these two faced off came four years ago during the 2017 Gold Cup at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas where the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Ten of the 23 squad members who will suit up at BMO Field for Canada were on the game sheet when they last played the Hondurans in 2017 and three of the more senior members played a role in the 8-1 drubbing away to Los Catrachos back in 2015. If the motivation to start this edition of World Cup qualifying on the right foot wasn't enough, avenging the disappointment of that famous result six years ago will surely be on the minds of some in Red on Thursday.

After this fixture, Canada heads south to take on the U.S. at Nissan Stadium on Sunday night (8 pm ET), while Honduras take on El Salvador on Sunday away at the Estadio Cuscatlan (7 pm ET).

3 THINGS TO WATCH:

  • What formation will Herdman opt for? Now that questions over which squad members will be available to Herdman for this window have been answered, perhaps the biggest concern of Canadian supporters is how the team will lineup. 4-3-3? 3-5-2? 3-4-3? Something else? Luckily for Canada, many of their important players have the tactical versatility to do a job in a number of different positions. be it Alphonso Davies as a left back, left wing back or left winger or Alistair Johnston as a right-sided center back, right back or perhaps even a wing back, these two are just a couple of examples of guys who can adapt when needed based on the opposition and the state of the game. At home and aiming to kickoff their qualifying hopes on a positive note, whatever way the XI looks on paper, it's a safe bet that a team focused on more getting forward will start from the off on Thursday.​
  • Laryea or Buchanan on the right side? Operating under the impression that Canada goes with a three-man backline, which in turn means wingbacks will provide the width rather than natural wingers, it's likely it will be Richie Laryea or Tajon Buchanan to start not both. Given the consistency and defensive solidity the former has displayed for both club and country and the breakout performance the latter demonstrated at last month's Gold Cup, it's as difficult a selection decision Herdman will have in this window for the right wingback starting role — it's for these reasons that the argument of Laryea vs. Buchanan was the most contested in the latest edition of the CanPL.ca podcast.​
  • Canada looks to make BMO a fortress: With seven of their fourteen qualifying fixtures across the next year at home, BMO Field will host at least the first two matches both taking place this window, starting first with Honduras on Thursday before El Salvador come to Toronto next week. It was with that first training session in Toronto that the group turned on that winning mentality according to Herdman: "You feel the energy in the environment," Herdman told media on Wednesday. "As soon as the guys walked into the field at BMO, it's just a different energy. You feel safe." Considering the hostility of away venues and the relative inexperience of this young Canadian group, it would be unfair to expect many of their points to come on the road. Given an opportunity to accumulate six points on home soil in their first three games, a hot start at BMO Field could go a long way in this team's bid to make the World Cup for the first time in 36 years.​

ALL-TIME SERIES

Canada wins: 7 || Honduras wins: 11 || Draws: 7


Previous match:

July 14, 2017 — Canada 0-0 Honduras

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