The Canadian men’s under-23 team wrapped up their group stage at the Concacaf Olympic Qualifying tournament on Thursday with a tiring 1-1 draw against Honduras. Derek Cornelius scored Canada’s lone goal in the 28th minute with a diving header but Honduras equalized moments later. The result ensures coach Mauro Biello’s side has finished second in Group B behind Honduras, setting up a do-or-die semifinal with Group A winners Mexico on Sunday where the winner qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics Here’s Canada’s report card from their Olympic qualifying group stage finale.
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James Pantemis – 8 Pantemis stood up big for his backline, bailing his defender out after they made a couple of poor passes, and coming up with a few saves from long range. Zachary Brault-Guillard – 6 Not enough credit has been given to the CF Montreal fullback who earned his third start in a row Thursday. Lively in attack, Brault-Guillard pressed well and held his own defensively through a suffocating match. Derek Cornelius – 8 Captain Canada leads by example. Cornelius’ powerful diving header put Canada on top through 28 minutes, though a defensive miscue at the other end moments later saw that lead evaporate. A couple excellent clearances added to his impressive day which ended in injury after 70 minutes. David Norman Jr. – 7 Cavalry FC’s imposing centre back looked sturdy in defence and aggressive in the tackle in the first half, but heavy legs caught up to the 22-year-old who had a handful of mistakes in the last 30-odd minutes. Marcus Godinho – 6 A difficult night for Canada’s left fullback who handled Honduras’ pressure up the flank as well as expected. Zorhan Bassong – 6 A solid 90-minute performance from Bassong who shined in the later stages with smart defensive play in midfield despite tired legs. Michael Baldisimo – 7 Another decent performance for the midfielder who helped keep Honduras from finding breakthroughs up the middle of the park. Managed four interceptions – a match-high – before being subbed out after 83 minutes. Patrick Metcalf – 8 Canada’s midfield standout assisted on Cornelius’ header – the first of a handful of attacking glimpses he created through Honduras’ swarming midfield. Ballou Tabla – 5 Tabla looked sharp in possession and was much more threatening in the final third than previous matches in Mexico but, ultimately, it wasn’t enough. Tabla was subbed out at the hour mark. Tajon Buchanan – 6 Another lively performance for Canada’s two-goal hero from game one. Buchanan kept fullbacks on notice with tricky touches and the threat of running in-behind but, ultimately, failed to create much going forward. Theo Bair – 5 A quiet performance for Bair, who failed to record a shot on target through 60 minutes of play.
SubstitutesRyan Raposo – 6 First of two second-half attacking substitutions, Raposo played as a striker without possession to limited effect. Charles-Andreas Brym – 8 Canada’s substitute connected on just three passes in a quiet 30-odd minute cameo appearance. Lucas Dias – 7 Came on in the 72nd minute in place of the injured Cornelius and put together a busy shift in midfield. Sparked a few solid attacks but nothing that resulted in a chance on goal. Mo Farsi– 8 Replaced Buchanan after 82 minutes and brought some much-needed pace and urgency. Aiden Daniels – 6 Daniels closed out the last seven minutes in midfield but failed to inject much energy into Canada’s attack.