21-year-old Bayern Munich player is out after testing positive for COVID-19, leading to being diagnosed with myocarditis as well.
Canadians aiming to qualify for first FIFA World Cup berth in 36 years
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
The Canadian Men’s National Team is getting ready to return to FIFA World Cup qualifying with a crucial road match against Honduras on January 27. The Canadians played Honduras to a 1-1 draw at BMO Field in Toronto in September 2021. Now, the Canadians will be in enemy territory in Honduras as the two teams meet for the second and final time at Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano (game time is 5:05 pm PST).
Unfortunately, Canada will be without star player, Alphonso Davies. The 21-year-old Bayern Munich player is out after testing positive for COVID-19, leading to being diagnosed with myocarditis as well. It is expected Davies will miss Canada’s next three qualifying matches (including the match against Honduras). Canada Soccer confirmed the news on Twitter on January 14: “Alphonso Davies to miss upcoming 2022 international window for FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.”
Davies posted a message on Twitter on January 15, thanking Canadian fans for their support while he recovers from COVID-19. He tweeted, “Thanks to everyone for showing so much love and support. I can’t wait to be back on the pitch doing what I love #AD19.” Nick Househ, agent for Alphonso Davies told TSN reporter, Rick Westhead, he spoke with Davies shortly after his MRI revealed myocarditis. “His biggest worry is being bored,” Househ said. Canada head coach, John Herdman, told TSN reporter, Matthew Scianitti, it may be weeks or months before Davies returns to full training. Scianitti posted on Twitter on January 14, “But Herdman is focused on Davies’ health first.”
Canada will miss Davies’ presence, but the team has depth in all positions—making the Canadians able to adapt and compensate successfully for Davies’ absence. CBC News, in a January 14 article about the Canadian roster, says Canada’s depth is impressive with its top-end talent: Atiba Hutchinson (Besiktas), Jonathan David (Lille OSC) and Tajon Buchanan (Club Brugge) all play for European clubs.
As well, Canada has top players from Major League Soccer (MLS): Jonathan Osorio (Toronto FC) and Mark-Anthony Kaye (Colorado Rapids). And there is a local connection to the Canadian squad as two players are current members of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC: goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau and forward Lucas Cavallini. ESPN reported January 19, Crépeau was traded to LAFC in exchange for approximately $1 million in allocation money.
After the match against Honduras, Canada has five more games in the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF. The top three teams will automatically qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Canada is currently in first place in the eight-team final round—with a record of four wins and four draws (and zero losses)—a total of 16 points. The USA is in second place with 15 points, followed by a tie between Panama and Mexico with 14 points apiece. The fourth-placed team will then play an Oceania team in an intercontinental playoff, to book their ticket to Qatar.
Canada returns home to play the US on January 30 in Hamilton; followed by a road game in San Salvador on February 2. Canada will need to continue playing hard as a unit (offensively and defensively). The Canadians cannot afford to be losing any games at this crucial part of qualifying. But if the Canadians continue obtaining points in these three upcoming crucial matches (win or draw), their path to Qatar in November 2022 will be a reality instead of a pipe dream.