World Cup qualifiers: Costa Rica suspends Canada men’s team

San Jose, Costa Rica –

Canada’s attempt to secure a spot in the Men’s World Cup was suspended on Thursday after a 0-1 loss to Costa Rica saw the Canadian play one man for nearly two-thirds of the match.

It was the Canadian’s first loss in 18 qualifying matches (13-1-4), marking a record of six wins.

There was plenty of drama throughout the evening, with the 10 Canadians attacking hard in the second half, the Costa Rican being suspended and other results to follow.

Honduras drew with Panama 1-1, meaning a draw with Canada still had a place. And Canadians can already book tickets to Qatar 2022 if Mexico beats the US. But the result was a 0-0 draw in Mexico City.

Now, the focus will turn to Toronto’s BMO Grounds on Sunday when Canada takes on Jamaica in the penultimate qualifying round. It will then head to Panama for the finale next Wednesday.

But the outlook is very bright. Even if Canada loses their remaining two games and Costa Rica wins their last two, the Canadians will finish third – and qualify – unless the Costa Ricans are 11 goals short.

Veteran midfielder Celso Borges put 42 Costa Rica ahead in first-half injury time after Canada’s defense struggled to defend and were unable to save a free kick. Goalkeeper Milan Borjan punched the ball away but it went to Costa Rica’s Gerson Torres and three passes later went into the net as Borges edged ahead of Stephen Eustaquio to head home Torres.

The 33rd Canadian was reduced to 10 men when midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye was sent off in the 34th minute for a second yellow card.

Kaye was cautioned in the 15th minute for a foul on Ronald Matarrita, catching FC Cincinnati starlet in the lower shin. Honduran referee Said Martinez came to the field to review this situation but the boss showed a yellow card.

But the Colorado Rapids midfielder had to rest 19 minutes later after a confrontation with Johan Venegas, who had knocked him down seconds earlier without penalty. Kaye, annoyed with the previous challenge, supported Venegas by her shoulder as the two crossed the street with the Costa Rican tumbling on the stage to the ground. That earns the second yellow.

Despite trailing and knocking down a man, the Canadians came out with great purpose to start the second half and close several times.

In the 73rd minute, Tajon Buchanan’s header hit the Costa Rica crossbar after goalkeeper Keylor Navas saved Richie Laryea’s low shot. And Laryea’s powerful long shot in the 83rd minute forced Navas to save.

Jonathan David shot the ball into the post in the 88th minute with a ball going outside his body. Eustaquio’s injury-time free kick hit the wall.

The Canadians took an 18-11 lead over Costa Rica, although the hosts took a 4-3 lead on shots on target. Canada has 67.9% ownership despite being a frustrated man.

Canada surprised in qualifying, rising above the FIFA rankings. And with players like captain Atiba Hutchinson, Alphonso Davies (now recovering from illness), Cyle Larin, David, Eustaquio and Borjan, they did it in style.

Canada overcame its opponents 50-6 while recording 11 clean sheets in qualifying matches before Thursday.

In another match on Thursday, El Salvador drew 1-1 with Jamaica.

Thursday marked the four-year anniversary of Herdman’s first game in charge for the men’s team, a 1-0 win over New Zealand in Murcia, Spain, in front of 75 men. His record at the men’s championship before Thursday was 28-6-4 with only losses to the US (twice), Mexico (twice), Haiti and Iceland.

The Canadian men who competed on Thursday finished first in the eight-team finals, four points ahead of 12th-place Mexico and 13th-placed the United States.

The 62nd place is Panama and the 42nd place is Costa Rica.

The top three qualified to Qatar while the fourth-placed team met an Oceania team in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.

Having qualified in the World Cup area 32 teams are hosts Qatar, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Iran, Japan, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Serbia , Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Uruguay.

With defenders Doneil Henry and Sam Adekugbe suspended and Steven Vitoria injured, Herdman started 39-year-old Hutchinson at centre-back. His starting 11 started the game with a combined limit total of 414, with Hutchinson expanding his Canadian men’s record total to 93.

The players chanted “O Canada” with fireworks exploding over the 35,000-capacity Estadio Nacional stadium and drowning out half the song.

The fitness Canadians gave up a string of free-kicks in the first half with Costa Rica picking up several direct free kicks off target.

The Canadians weren’t as fluid in the first half as they had been in previous games but began to find rhythm as the first half continued with Laryea finding space on the left flank. Herdman switched to a 3-5-2 formation and then had to practice again when Kaye left the field.

Larin came close in the 37th minute when an Eustaquio corner landed at his feet in front of goal but Calvo did enough to stop him from hitting the net. At the other end, Borjan played with fire as his save deflected Anthony Contreras towards goal. Fortunately for Canada, it went wide.

Navas, who is playing for his club for Paris Saint-Germain, had to be sharp in the 29th minute, escaping a shot from close range by Buchanan.

Borjan stopped Joel Campbell in the 53rd minute after the Costa Rican attacker was left alone with Hutchinson trying to chase him. Two minutes later, David’s seemingly dangerous shot was blocked by a defender.

Eustaquio’s diagonal shot just missed the post in the 64th minute.

CF Montreal midfielder Ismael Kone, 19, made his Canadian debut from the bench in the 79th minute.

Davies took to Twitter to express his support ahead of the game,

“Good luck to my teammates tonight. Take care of business this week and make history. Wish I could be there with you guys. GO!!” said the Bayern Munich speedster, who is trying to return from myocarditis following a course of COVID-19 use.

“Good luck boys tonight! Great opportunity, the whole country is behind you,” Canada women’s captain Christine Sinclair, who has played in five World Cups, tweeted.

Canada has attended seven of the eight Women’s World Cups, only missing the inaugural event in 1991. The women’s team finished fourth at the 2003 tournament in the US.

The Canadian men beat Costa Rica 1-0 when the two teams met in the November qualifiers in Edmonton and 2-0 when they met last July in the Gold Cup quarterfinals in Arlington, Texas .

The Canadians won Costa Rica 7-9 full-time before Thursday’s game, including 2-2-2 in games on Costa Rican soil.

This Canadian Press report was first published on March 24, 2022

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