CPLers Didic, Borges make CanMNT debuts; Didic scores
The Canadian men's team improved to 2-0 at its January training camp on Friday evening, as they defeated Barbados 4-1 once again in Irvine, California FC Edmonton defender Amer Didic made history on the night, as he became the first Canadian Premier League player to earn a cap for Canada. He was later joined by Forge FC's Tristan Borges, who entered the game as a second-half substitute. Canada earned a 4-1 win over Barbados earlier this weekin California. RELATED READING: Didic, Borges make history as 1st CPLers to play for CanMNT || WATCH: Amer Didic scores 1st CanMNT goal by a CPLer Charles-Andreas Brym, also making his first start for the Canadian team, opened the scoring just 10 minutes into Friday's contest with his first international goal, rising above the Barbadian defence to head in a cross. His marker made up for an open-net miss just a few minutes before, which saw him send the ball wide of goal after stepping around the goalkeeper. Brym, a 21-year-old playing for Portuguese side Belenenses (on loan from Lille in France), recovered well from his early miss, involving himself in almost every attacking move for Canada. Experienced midfielder Russell Teibert added another goal for Canada later in the first half, as he muscled his way into the box to finish off a superb passing play, with debutant Zorhan Bassong serving up a perfect feed to the front of the net. Bassong, a 20-year-old left-back for Cercle Brugge, had a spirited performance on the flank, showing exceptional pace in his first senior national team game. Didic, representing the CPL and the Eddies, did admirably in his international debut. He scored Canada's third goal, climbing above his marker to send a smashing header into the back of the net from a perfectly-delivered corner by Liam Fraser. With the 63rd-minute goal, he became the first CPL player to score in an international match for Canada. The FCE centre back was rock-solid for Canada, making a handful of interceptions and clearances to prevent Barbados from coming too near goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau. He was active in moving the ball, picking out several impressive long-range diagonal passes, and he was a force on set-pieces at both ends of the pitch. Didic contributed one of Canada's better chances in the first half, getting solid contact with his head on a corner, but his chance went just over the bar. As perhaps the tallest player on the pitch, Didic was often Canada's target of choice in dead-ball situations. Coach John Herdman continued to test the waters with some young players at their first camp, with both 22-year-old Shamit Shome and 17-year-old Jayden Nelson entering in the second half to make their second national team appearances, after their debuts on Tuesday. They were joined by debutants Jacob Shaffelburg of Toronto FC and Borges, who entered in the 70th minute, as well as 19-year-old Noble Okello, reprising his cameo appearance from Tuesday's game. Borges may not have had as many touches on the ball as he may have liked in his debut, but he was called upon several times to take free kicks for the Canadians — a mark of respect for his quality in set-piece situations, from which he was deadly all year for Forge. Nelson provided the fourth and final goal for Canada late in the evening, as he picked off a pass from the Barbadian goalkeeper and sent it into the net from well outside the 18-yard box. This win will be helpful for Canada in its quest to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. With Les Rouges the seventh-ranked side in Concacaf in FIFA's world rankings, they need every possible ranking point they can get in order to catch up to sixth-ranked El Salvador. The top six Concacaf nations come June will compete in "the Hex," with three of them advancing straight to the World Cup and a fourth getting to play the winner of a tournament between the Concacaf sides not in "the Hex" — the winner of which would play another international team for the final World Cup spot. Canada picked up approximately 1.12 points from this match, and they added about 1.13 from Tuesday's 4-1 win over Barbados. With El Salvador sitting at 1346 points, they're now only a hair under 13 points ahead of Canada, who could pick up a couple more next Wednesday with a friendly against Iceland.