PREVIEW: 3 things you NEED to know for Canada vs. Jamaica in World Cup Qualifying
Canada's World Cup qualification celebrations had to be put on pause on Thursday evening after the team suffered a 1-0 loss down in Costa Rica, with Los Ticos handing Les Rouges their first loss of this campaign in Concacaf.
But, with a meeting against Jamaica in their return to Toronto circled on the calendar for Sunday afternoon - kicking off at 4PM ET / 1PM PT on OneSoccer - John Herdman's side can feel rather confident of their chances to celebrate the occassion in front of their own supporters, with Jamaica standing in the way at BMO Field.
Here's what you need to know ahead of the match:
We're right at the finish line
Okay, sure, Canada's undefeated run has come to an end, but... all hope is not suddenly lost for qualification.
In fact, John Herdman's side ended the evening in an even stronger position than they started it, as Panama's 1-1 draw to Honduras coupled with the United States' goalless foray at the Azteca against Mexico means all Canada needs now is a single point out of Jamaica to qualify outright for Qatar.
So, a draw against Jamaica at Toronto's BMO Field on Sunday would book Canada's first return to the world's great contest since 1986. And, as the standings show us, Jamaica doesn't have much to play for anymore, having been eliminated from contention themselves.
If you've still got some nerves about things, shake 'em off. And if there are any doubts regarding the numbers, let's keep it super simple:
Canada books their spot in the 2022 World Cup if:
- Canada gets a win or a draw vs. Jamaica
- OR Canada loses to Jamaica PLUS Costa Rica draws or loses against El Salvador
- OR Canada loses vs. Jamaica PLUS the United States lose to Panama
On top of all that, Canada still has a third match to play on March 30 at Panama, where the margins of qualification will likely be even more generous. As Kristian Jack points out in his analysis (video above), it's happening. It's just a matter of technicalities now. The Kings of the North? They're already gearing up for celebrations, after all...
If it doesn't happen, though? John Herdman isn't worried.
"We can take control of our destiny - we don't need the U.S., we don't need Panama. We'll take care of business this weekend, and if it doesn't get taken care of there, we'll take care of it in Panama - we will get to Qatar."
Who's in, who's out?
These two teams have already met once before in this qualifying campaign, back on Oct. 10, 2021 when Canada was held to a 0-0 draw by a resilient Jamaican backline. But a lot has changed for Canada since October ... and for Jamaica, too.
Chiefly, the Reggae Boyz have been eliminated from World Cup contention and have parted ways with long-standing manager Theo Whitmore, too. They have little to play for but pride at this point in the campaign.
And, while the Jamaican team boasts a number of high-profile talents on paper like Leon Bailey, Ravel Morrison, and Andre Gray, JD from iMAXit Football tells our friend Josh from JJD TV, "I'm hearing that Leon Bailey won't be traveling because of documentation (issues) coming into Canada," and "Morrison hasn't been cleared to travel to the U.S.A. or Canada for the longest time."
Add to the mix that Jamaica is missing the (albeit more blunted of late) attacking threat of West Ham striker Michail Antonio, who was not called in for these consolatory matches, and you've got a rather depleted opponent for Canada to square off against on Sunday.
One familiar face you may see at BMO Field, however, is HFX Wanderers FC forward Alex Marshall. Canada would be wise not to sleep on the CPL-er. He can hurt you, badly.
Canada will be without a few regular faces this time around, as Steven Vitoria battles an injury and Mark-Anthony Kaye is suspended following his red card vs. Costa Rica.
But, Herdman's defensive ranks will be boosted by the return of Doneil Henry and Sam Adekugbe, both of whom missed the last match with suspensions of their own.
That's certainly welcome news for Canada, as midfielder Atiba Hutchinson had to slot in between Alistair Johnston and Kamal Miller as a centre-back in their last match, to great effect.
Herdman has hinted at some level of rotation among his ranks, as he was looking to book a spot in Qatar, finish 1st in Concacaf, and go undefeated. But, with job one still to be completed, and the third no longer an option, we could see a full-strength Canada - sans Alphonso Davies still - take to the field to get the job done.
What they're saying...
If you're still worried, don't take our word for it. Here's what Herdman had to say of this final stanza.
"We'll get back to Canada. We'll regroup. We'll have our 30,000 egging us on, and with this talent, and the passion and desire after this match?
"Yeah. We'll be ready."
About last night ✨— OneSoccer (@onesoccer) March 25, 2022
It may not have happened as hopes for in Costa Rica, but John Herdman affirms destiny is in the #CanMNT’s own hands heading into Sunday’s clash vs. Jamaica in #WCQ
RECAP 👇https://t.co/hwq9KYfkkI pic.twitter.com/m50g9jBc6q