Simply put, Canada's match on Tuesday against Suriname (8pm ET/OneSoccer) is huge. If Canada pick up a win or draw, they will qualify for the second round of World Cup Qualifying. If they lose, their opponents move on instead. This match is the biggest Canada has played in quite some time, and ahead of Tuesday's contest, head coach John Herdman and defender Doneil Henry spoke to the media.
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Preparing for SurinameBoth Herdman and Henry seemed confident that Canada will pick up a result on Tuesday, and qualify for the second qualifying round, which would begin later this week. Suriname will be a more difficult opponent than Aruba was, however, and Herdman has been impressed with their opponents' performances thus far. "There's been a lot of cohesion in their attacking organization," Herdman said of Suriname's past few matches. "We were able to see how they performed against Bermuda, from a statistical analysis versus how we performed against Bermuda. We've seen how they performed a little bit stronger, or where we've performed stronger. "They've got a strong squad of players, they've got depth off the bench, they follow a very clear tactical blueprint." Defender Doneil Henry was also cautious about Tuesday's match and said that Canada makes sure they don't look down on any opponent and that they will still need to be at their best. "They move the ball really well," said Henry. "They have players, like any other player, that when you give them time and space will hurt you." With Suriname's impressive recruitment drive over the past year, to bring in eligible players from top leagues around the world, they're still something of an unknown and will cause troubles for Canada. One thing we do know is that they're a strong side. In three matches, Suriname is yet to concede a goal, have picked up three victories, and only trail Canada on goal difference. "They're a good team in CONCACAF," Herdman noted. "When you've got players playing in the Bundesliga and the Eredivisie, this is the strongest team Canada's faced since the USA and Mexico. It's going to be a great challenge. "This is a tough opponent, but our boys will be ready."
Doneil Henry back with the national teamAfter over a year away, Doneil Henry is back with the national team. Henry says that despite his absence, he has still been in tune with everything going on with the national team. "I haven't played for them for 18 months, but I haven't missed a beat," he said. "Throughout this whole pandemic the boys have been sticking together, trying to better ourselves while we couldn't be together." "It's really good to be back in the fold and do what I love, it's always a privilege to be able to represent my country." Henry, who has made 31 appearances for the national team since making his debut in 2012, agrees with what teammate Samuel Piette said last week about the Canadian national team program being in a very good place at the moment. "Especially when you talk about the attacking players and the players we're developing, that are coming through the system right now," he noted. "Canada Soccer, we're going in the right direction. There's no better time than now."
With the borders opening for NHL teams, could the Canadian national teams follow?After the news this week that NHL teams will be allowed to cross the Canada-USA border for their playoffs, Herdman is optimistic that Canada will be able to play home games this year. With huge World Cup Qualifiers potentially on the horizon, Herdman says that playing in Canada, especially in front of fans, would be a huge boost, should his team play in them. "You see the fans back in stadiums, you see the events that are happening around the world, and you're desperate to have that feeling back," Herdman said. "The fans make a huge difference. We're not going to have that experience (in Chicago) but we know the country will be behind us, and we hope that come [the fall] we're in these games and those allowances are being made for football. "For this sport, this (World Cup Qualifiers) is a massive, massive event, and as we all know, a truly global sport that can connect our country in a way that no other sport can."