FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers Jamaica vs. Canada October 10, 2021 at 6 pm ET National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica Watch live on OneSoccer, TELUS Ch. 980, and Sportsnet One


Brimming with confidence after their historic result in Mexico on Thursday, the Canadian men's national team have arrived in Kingston, Jamaica for the second of three games in this international window -- and their fifth of 14 in this final round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying for Concacaf. John Herdman's men are now set to play the Jamaicans in a match that could help make this round of games a wildly successful one. As it stands, Canada sit in sole possession of third place in the Octagon -- two points back of both the United States and Mexico (both of whom dropped points to Canada at home). They've beaten El Salvador, and they've split points with the U.S., Mexico, and Honduras, meaning they're undefeated with six points to show for it. With two of their more difficult fixtures out of the way already, the time is nigh for Les Rouges to start tacking on some more points, in hopes of putting some breathing room between themselves and the sides chasing. Jamaica are, of course, one of those teams chasing -- albeit from some distance. The September window was fairly calamitous for the Reggae Boyz, who lost 2-1 at the Azteca and, most notably, 3-0 at home to Panama, although they turned it around a little in their third game with a hard-won away point in Costa Rica. They handles themselves decently well in Mexico, coming just minutes away from a draw before Henry Martin scored in the 89th minute to win it for El Tri.

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On Thursday night, Jamaica were in Austin, Texas to play the United States, and they fell 2-0 to the Americans thanks to a pair of second-half goals by Ricardo Pepi. So, they still sit at the bottom of the table with just one point from four matches. The Jamaicans have had a bit of a rough go recently; they haven't beaten one of the countries in the Octagon since the 2019 Gold Cup quarterfinal, where they topped Panama 1-0. Pressure is starting to mount somewhat on coach Theodore Whitmore, who has been in charge of the side since 2016, but in fairness to him, circumstances have made things very difficult for Jamaica in this World Cup Qualifying cycle. Their two star English Premier League players -- Michail Antonio of West Ham United and Leon Bailey of Aston Villa -- have yet to appear for the Reggae Boyz in the Octagon, due to a combination of injury and COVID-19 travel restrictions. Nonetheless, Jamaica will be extremely motivated to try and turn things around with a big result on Sunday against Canada. These sides have met 22 times in total throughout history, of which Canada have won nine and Jamaica have won seven, with six draws. In Kingston, the story is a little different: Canada have lost their last four matches at the Jamaican National Stadium, dating back to 1997. The Canadians haven't won in Jamaica since 1988 -- a 4-0 result in a friendly -- and they haven't scored in their last two visits. These two nations last met at BMO Field in 2017, in a friendly that Canada won 2-0 thanks to goals from Jonathan Osorio and Anthony Jackson-Hamel. Six of the Canadians who played in that game are in this current squad -- including Alphonso Davies, who was sent off in that game.


Canada hope to improve finishing

For all the credit Canada has earned (deservedly) for their draw in Mexico, the prevailing narrative from John Herdman postmatch was that, really, his side could (perhaps should) have won the game, had they been able to put away a couple of their chances -- Alphonso Davies' poor touch in front of goal in the first half stands out, as does a heavy touch from Jonathan David that could've given Canada the winner on a second-half counter attack. They had eight shots in total, four of them on target -- not necessarily a bad rate -- but there were certainly a few occasions where Herdman might've liked to see a little more composure in front of goal. Canada had some trouble with finishing earlier this window as well, in the home match against Honduras -- they had a lot of chances in the second half at BMO Field, but they weren't able to put away any opportunities from open play. It certainly doesn't help that the Canadians are currently without Cyle Larin and Lucas Cavallini, two of this side's more clinical scorers in front of goal, but there's more than enough quality in the side to put the ball away. Junior Hoilett should be available for this match after missing the Mexico trip due to travel restrictions, which will be a help considering his calmness in front of goal. Plus, this would be an excellent time for Jonathan David to have a big game; the Lille OSC forward is perhaps the most in-form striker in the French top flight right now, so he could absolutely cause problems for Jamaica.

CanMNT shorthanded due to suspensions

Squad selection will, once again, be tricky for John Herdman in this game -- particularly with a must-win home match coming up against Panama. A trio of key players: Richie Laryea, Steven Vitória, and Tajon Buchanan all picked up their second yellow card of the Octagon in the Mexico game, which means they'll be suspended on Sunday. So, there are a couple spots in the lineup where Herdman might have a gap to fill: Richie Laryea played left-back in Mexico, so might Sam Adekugbe come in to replace him this time? Will Doneil Henry come in to play centre-back in lieu of Vitória? Perhaps the most intriguing position on the pitch is up front: who will play on the wing where Buchanan might normally be? Or will Herdman opt for a front two rather than a front three? Junior Hoilett is likely to draw in, but it's also possible that Jacob Shaffelburg or Liam Millar get a look in one of the attacking positions. Shaffelburg, in particular, has been in very good form at club level for Toronto FC, so maybe it's worth taking a risk and giving him a run out to start. No matter what, Herdman has a lot of decisions to make.

What to watch for with Jamaica

Even without Michail Antonio or Leon Bailey, Jamaica are still a dangerous side. Shamar Nicholson of Belgian side Charleroi is probably the most likely scoring threat, and he might start once again as a lone centre-forward. Another interesting factor might be Rangers FC forward Kemar Roofe, who only recently committed to play for Jamaica and has yet to make a serious impact for the Reggae Boyz -- but this could be the time. Whitmore's team usually plays with a back four, but they've got a solid group of centre-backs they rotate through. Toronto FC left-back Kemar Lawrence is likely to start, but there are a few options for right-back -- Oniel Fisher of the LA Galaxy? Javain Brown of Vancouver Whitecaps? In the game against the United States earlier this week, Jamaica went with a double-pivot of Je-Vaughn Watson of domestic side Humble Lions and Devon Williams of USL team Miami FC. Overall, expect Canada to have their fair share of possession, but Jamaica can cause some problems in transition and with long balls -- perhaps not unlike the play that led to Mexico's goal on Thursday. This should be quite an entertaining, end-to-end match, which may play to the strengths of a player like Alphonso Davies who can cover serious ground quickly.

Jamaica wins: 7 || Canada wins: 9 || Draws: 6

Previous match:

September 2, 2017 — Canada 2-0 Jamaica

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