Concacaf 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification — Match #2 Cayman Islands vs. Canada Sunday, March 28, 2021 at 4:00 p.m. ET IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida Watch Live: OneSoccer.ca
The Canadian men’s team will look to tick another box on Sunday when it meets the Cayman Islands in its second Concacaf qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Canada is a coming off a 5-1 win over Bermuda on Thursday in a game that saw Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies collect three assists and Besiktas forward Cyle Larin net a hat trick. Meanwhile, the Cayman Islands were blanked 3-0 by Suriname in their Concacaf qualifying opener. Much like Thursday’s contest, Canada’s first ever match against the Cayman Islands at senior level is a major mismatch on paper. Canada is 73rd in the current FIFA world rankings, well ahead of the Cayman Islands (No. 193). The other teams in Group B are Suriname (No. 141) and Aruba (No. 200), so Canada is excepted to breeze through this group and move on to the next round without much trouble. Coach John Herdman was pleased with his team’s effort and commitment vs. Bermuda (No. 169), but stressed that Canada must travel down a long path in and play at least 20 games in order to qualify for the World Cup. "One game at a time – one down, 19 more to go to get to Qatar," Herdman said in the post-match media conference. He later added: "All in all, a good night. But loads to build on." The six group winners from this first round of Concacaf qualifying advance to the next stage. The top team in Group B will face the winner of Group E – which is made up of Haiti (No. 84), Nicaragua (No. 149), Belize (No. 170), St. Lucia (No. 175) and Turks and Caicos Islands (No. 203) – in a home-and-away playoff in June. The three winners of the second-round matchups move on to the final round of Concacaf qualifying, joining Mexico (No. 9), the U.S. (No. 22), Jamaica (No. 47), Costa Rica (No. 50) and Honduras (No. 64). The eight nations will play each other home and away, with the top three automatically qualifying for the World Cup. The fourth-place nation will play in an intercontinental playoff for a chance to go to Qatar.
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4 THINGS TO KNOW
- John Herdman’s view: Herdman expects their opponents to maintain a tight defensive shape in an attempt to frustrate Canada on what should be a hot day in Florida. With that in mind, he stressed that his players can’t get frustrated, and must remain patient if he goals don’t immediately come. "When you look at this game, it’s the conditions – playing in a pretty intense heat… against an opponent that we now will park the bus, and maybe a couple of buses, and make it very difficult," Herdman told reporters on Saturday.
- No Atiba Hutchinson for Canada: Veteran midfielder Atiba Hutchinson eared his 85th cap against Bermuda, moving past Paul Stalteri into second place on Canada’s all-time appearances list (Julian de Guzman leads the way with 89 caps). After the game, Herdman revealed that Hutchinson would return to Turkey the following day to rejoin his club Besiktas, which means he won’t be available to play against the said his team has no injury concerns ahead of the game vs. the Caymans. Herdman said on Saturday that the team has no injury concerns ahead of the match vs. the Caymans.
- Who are the Cayman Islands?: The Cayman Islands team is coached by Englishman Benjamin Pugh, with Caymanian centre-back Joshewa Frederick-Charlery (who plays in the country’s domestic league) serving as captain. The team finished second in its group of the 2019-2020 CONCACAF Nations League C. Midfielder Jonah Ebanks is a player to watch.
- Group B standings: Canada currently tops Group B in the first round of Concacaf qualifying, tied on three points with Suriname. Cayman Islands and Bermuda are at the bottom of the table after they both lost their opening games. Aruba plays Suriname in its opening Group B match on Saturday night.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
"There isn’t room for error in any of these games, and that’s part of the motivation. When you have that sort of purpose where you can’t make an error or your dreams are over, it becomes clear to the players that there’s an intensity they have to bring. That’s important for us in this moment; it’s that balancing act of reminding the players they have to fight for their lives, but at the same time not over-burdening them with that pressure.”– Canadian coach John Herdman. "Patience is really important (vs. Cayman Islands), make sure that we don’t get frustrated if we can’t penetrate their (defence)… If we have that possession and control of the game, we can use that as our advantage to make them run." – Canadian midfielder Sam Piette.