Canada’s World Cup Qualifiers: Coach sees room for improvement

San Jose, Costa Rica –

Canada may be ahead of the World Cup, but coach John Herdman is still looking for ways to improve.

In the run-up to Thursday’s game against 42 Costa Rica, Herdman said he spoke to team leadership about “staying away from the occasion.” And while the 33rd Canadian has won six straight matches in qualifying, including wins over 12th-placed the US and 13th-placed Mexico – he believes the tank is much more than that.

“We’re going to enjoy the game together but we’re not going to be swept away,” Herdman told reporters. “So (we) returned to a little bit of modesty in the training sessions this week, where we identified some areas from January that we were not happy with, areas where some of our indicators We have dropped below what we think is acceptable for our team.

“So we’ve been working hard this week on the process, the improvement process. And those improvements will hopefully get us through the game.”

But while it wants to make sure its players focus on getting better – with Herdman suggesting game management as an area where it can grow – rather than considering “the enormity of an occasion”, he made it clear that this Canadian team has bigger goals just to Qatar 2022.

Herdman said he showed the team a two-minute video from his first camp while in charge in Murcia, Spain, in 2018.

“(It) takes them right back to that moment, when a bunch of us said we’d qualify ΓǪ and I think every man knows what’s in front of him. They’re sitting in the front row. . Their hands are on the wheel. They can do this. They can actually do a lot more than that just by qualifying. And that’s exciting. And I think that’s the real motivator.”

Canada (7-0-4, 25 points) was the surprise pack in the CONCACAF qualifiers, topping the final round-robin group ahead of Mexico and the US (6-2-3, 21 points each) with Panama in fourth (5th) ). 4-2, 17 points) and Costa Rica is fifth (4-3-4, 16 points).

The top three teams at the end of the current international competition will represent North and Central America and the Caribbean in Qatar. The fourth-place finisher will play against a team from Oceania in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.

After Costa Rica, the Canadian men host No. 62 Jamaica on Sunday at Toronto’s BMO Stadium before concluding a March 30 qualifying match against Team No. 63 Panama at Panama City.

“We had three missions, three separate groups of people who were clear about this game, the Toronto game, and the Panama game. Each of them has huge implications for the chapter,” said Herdman. this program”.

The Canadians wanted to finish first in the CONCACAF qualifiers, showing they really belonged. And continuing to move up the rating ladder – Canada was ranked 94th when Herdman took over in January 2018 – could help when it comes to the World Cup draw.

A win on Thursday and Canada is in. A draw would also suffice if Panama fails to beat Honduras or Mexico win or draw the US on Thursday. Another tough scenario would be if Panama draws or loses Honduras and Mexico beats the US

The Canadian men have only qualified for one World Cup – in 1986 in Mexico.

Herdman repeatedly referred to his team as the “new Canada,” saying, “It’s not about two or three players.”

When asked about the key moments for the team, Herdman offered the list – beating the US 2-0 in Toronto in the October 2019 CONCACAF Nations League match in Toronto, posting a 1-0 victory in Haiti in a qualifying match last June, showing the depth of the team at last summer’s Gold Cup, and Alphonso Davies’ standout goal in last October’s 4-1 qualifying win over Panama at Toronto.

“I think the whole country believes we can do this,” he said of Davies’ goal, showing the speed, strength and determination of the Bayern Munich star.

As for Costa Rica, Herdman noted their domestic league has been suspended for the past two weeks to allow the national team to prepare for Canada.

“The Costa Rica that I saw in November (when Canada beat Edmonton 1-0), I think it will be very different from the one we will experience in San Jose,” Herdman said. “And they’ve only lost one game in San Jose.”

“They have one big purpose, which is to survive (in qualifying),” he added. “My group of men, they know they can qualify in this game and that’s what we have to do.”

This Canadian Press report was first published on March 23, 2022

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