The major news in Canadian Premier League circles last week was that a pair of former CPLers -- Dominick Zator and Victor Loturi -- received calls to the Canadian men's national team for this month's Concacaf Nations League matches. However, it's not just in the Canadian national team setup that the CPL has been making an impact. Over the weeks leading up to this March international window, seven active players in the league accepted calls to represent other countries around the world. Among the other former CPL players getting international nods this month are William Akio (South Sudan), as well as Emery Welshman and Quillan Roberts (both Guyana). Here, though, are all the current CPLers who might play on the international stage this week.
Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Valour FC/Haiti)Valour FC's stalwart centre-back was called into the Haitian side earlier in March for their Nations League B matches against Montserrat (March 25) and Bermuda (March 28). They sit atop Group B in their campaign to return to League A and qualify for the 2023 Gold Cup, and a win in either match would be enough to secure both. Unfortunately, Jean-Baptiste, who has 14 senior caps for Haiti in his career, picked up a knock during Valour's preseason and therefore will remain with his club in B.C. during the international break.
Pacifique Niyongabire (Valour FC/Burundi)One of the Winnipeg club's most recent signings, Niyongabire will travel to Jakarta to represent his home nation of Burundi in a pair of friendlies against Indonesia (March 24 and 27). Niyongabire played in Valour's preseason match against Vancouver FC on Saturday but has since left to join his national team. The 23-year-old winger has one prior cap for Burundi, playing a friendly against Côte d'Ivoire in November 2022.
Andre Rampersad (Halifax Wanderers/Trinidad & Tobago)The 28-year-old Halifax captain at last received a long-awaited call-up to the Trinidad and Tobago national team this month, after he was previously unable to attend his first camp in 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Rampersad will join up with the Soca Warriors for their two Concacaf Nations League games in March, away in Nassau against the Bahamas (March 24) and then back home in Trinidad against Nicaragua (March 27). Trinidad and Tobago need some results in this window if they're to qualify directly for the Gold Cup and earn promotion to League A. With four of six games played, they sit second in Group C -- just one point behind Nicaragua.
Pele Martinez (Vancouver FC/Belize)Vancouver FC's inaugural preseason has proceeded the past week or so without defender Pele Martinez, who is down in Belmopan with the Belizean national side. Martinez already has four caps for Belize, and he's looking to add to that total in this month's Concacaf Nations League B matches. Unfortunately, Belize have already been eliminated from contention in Group D and can't qualify for the Gold Cup, but they still have a pair of valuable tests ahead, at home against Guatemala (March 24) and away against the Dominican Republic (March 27).
Brem Soumaoro (York United/Liberia)York defender Soumaoro has stepped away from his first CPL preseason in order to represent Liberia in a pair of absolutely vital fixtures. Liberia find themselves in a sticky situation in qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations: In Group K, just three teams remain standing after Zimbabwe were disqualified. So, it's down to Liberia, South Africa, and World Cup semifinalists Morocco. As it stands, neither Liberia nor South Africa has a point yet, having both lost to Morocco already. However, the two sides will play each other twice this window -- first in Johannesburg's Orlando Stadium (March 24), then in the Liberian capital of Monrovia (March 28). Soumaoro, who already has 10 caps for his country and has captained the side twice, will be a vital part of their attempt to qualify for Africa's most prestigious tournament.
Mo Babouli (York United/Syria)The Nine Stripes' talismanic attacker will join his compatriots in Dubai for a friendly against Thailand (March 25), followed by another fixture against another AFC rival in Bahrain (March 28). Babouli has previously played twice for Syria, in a pair of 2022 World Cup qualifiers against United Arab Emirates and South Korea last winter. This camp for Syria will be the team's first under new boss Héctor Cúper, an experienced Argentine coach who previously managed the likes of Inter Milan, Valencia, and the Egyptian national team. Babouli appears set to be a key figure in Cúper's new attacking setup.
Jonathan Grant (York United/Guyana)New York fullback Grant will join up with the Guyanese national team for the first time this week, hoping to make a debut in one of their Concacaf Nations League B contests. Grant could play an important role for Guyana in these important matches, as they look to qualify at least for the Gold Cup preliminary round, or directly to the tournament's group stage if they can pass Haiti in the Group B standings. With six points from the first four games, they're 10 points back of the lead, but two points ahead of Bermuda for second place. Guyana will travel to take on Bermuda (March 25) before hosting Montserrat in Barbados (March 28).