Alphonso Davies has high expectations for himself and his teammates. “I think six points is our goal,” he said.
Alphonso Davies returns to Edmonton to play his first match in his hometown
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The Canadian Men’s National Soccer Team is preparing for their second of two home matches at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. At the time of writing, the Canadians will play the first match against Costa Rica on November 12.
Canada faces Mexico on November 16 and they are to be the most challenging opponent for Canada.
Prior to the two matches in Edmonton, Canada was in third place in the CONCACAF final qualifying standings. Mexico is the leader with 14 points (four wins and two draws), followed by the US in second place with 10 points (three wins and two draws)—then Canada with 10 points (two wins and four draws).
Mexico is currently ranked number 9 in the FIFA World Rankings. Canada has made a notable climb in the FIFA World Rankings. The Canadians began the year ranked number 72 and moved steadily to number 48.
According to the Sporting News website, Mexico released their 26-man roster for the November qualifying matches. Head coach, Gerardo “Tata” Martino has a solid veteran lineup. Many of whom are established players playing in Europe: Nestor Araujo (Celta Vigo), “Tecatito” Corona (Porto), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Hector Herrera (Atletico Madrid), Raul Jimenez (Wolves) and “Chucky” Lozano (Napoli).
However, there were some notable omissions from the team. One of those players was veteran MLS player, Jonathan Dos Santos (LA Galaxy). Another player was Uriel Antuna, along with Chivas teammate, Alexis Vega—who had recently recovered from an injury. As well, several other young prospects failed to make the team: Gerardo Arteaga (23), Diego Lainez (21) and Jose Juan Macias (22). The Mexicans play the US on November 12, followed by the November 16 game against Canada.
Canada’s roster is balanced with talent in all positions: goalkeeping, defence, midfielders and forwards. According to the Canadian Press, players like Milan Borjan, Tajon Buchanan, Jonathan David, Stephen Eustaquio, Atiba Hutchinson, Cyle Larin, and Jonathan Osorio—have all made key contributions to the team’s success. But star player, Alphonso Davies, has become the prominent face of the Canadian men’s National Soccer Team program. Notably, Edmonton is Davies’ adopted hometown. According to a 2018 profile about Davies published on the Bundesliga website, he is a former refugee whose family fled the civil war in Liberia. The family stayed in Buduburam, a Ghanaian refugee camp—where Davies was born. The family later immigrated to Canada when Davies was five years old, eventually settling in Edmonton.
Davies is excited to return to Edmonton representing Canada. “It’ll mean the world to me to see 50,000 plus fans,” he said during a media conference as reported by CTV News Edmonton. “To see all those people in the stadium supporting us will be amazing not just for our confidence but for the next generation of footballers that want to play for this country.”
Davies has high expectations for himself and his teammates. “I think six points is our goal,” he said. “Two home games against two very good teams but we are here to win.” This will be Davies’ first game in his hometown since being a member of the Edmonton Strikers. In 2015, Davies left Edmonton to join the Vancouver Whitecaps FC Residency at age 14. In 2018, the Whitecaps transferred Davies to Bundesliga club, Bayern Munich—as part of a multi-million-dollar transfer agreement.
Canada’s two games in Edmonton are pivotal matches if Canada wants to remain one of the top three teams who will automatically qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Canada must accumulate points, whether it is a draw (one point) or a win (three points). If the team finishes in fourth place they will need to play a single game playoff match against a yet to be determined opponent. As such, the Canadians cannot risk losing any of their six remaining qualifying matches in 2022. After the Mexico match, Canada has a short break. The Canadians will next face Honduras on January 27, 2022. The fans in Edmonton are ready. And most importantly, let us hope the Canadian men will also be ready.
Canada’s remaining CONCACAF final qualifying matches
Thursday, January 27, 2022: Honduras vs. Canada (road game)
Sunday, January 30, 2022: Canada vs. the United States (home game)
Wednesday, February 2, 2022: El Salvador vs. Canada (road game)
Thursday, March 24, 2022: Costa Rica vs. Canada (road game)
Sunday, March 27, 2022: Canada vs. Jamaica (home game)
Wednesday, March 30, 2022: Panama vs. Canada (road game)