On Thursday, Canada will have the opportunity to add in Costa Rica the point it needs to ensure its presence in Qatar 2022, its first World Cup qualifier since Mexico 1986 and its second in its history.
The Canadians will face Costa Rica at the National Stadium in San Jose in the twelfth round of the eight-way CONCACAF qualifiers.
Canada, the surprise leader in the tie, is just one tie away from obtaining the entry visa for the Asian competition. It adds 25 units, four more than the United States and Mexico, and ranks second and third in the rankings, respectively. These three places get a direct ticket to the World Cup.
The Canadians broke expectations and dominated the World Cup, with balanced but dizzying football, and enviable efficiency on both sides of the field.
They are the team with the highest scoring and least number of goals, unbeaten and have more victories than the rest.
In this qualifying break, they will no longer have their biggest name, Alphonso Davies, affected with heart consequences after contracting covid-19. However, over the past months they have found pieces that could cover the Bayern Munich player’s absence.
They include Lille’s French striker, Jonathan David, and newly appointed Belgian Brugge Tajon Buchanan.
“When we first met, we wanted to be pioneers in many ways. One of them was the creation of a new Canada as a football nation. (…) Now we have Costa Rica ahead of us. This match is all right now.” Coach John Herdman said.
The reality in Costa Rica is just the opposite.
The Ticos played on edge in four games and managed to keep the World Cup dream by millimeters. Thursday will be no exception.
Defeat to the Canadians, along with Panama’s win over Honduras, will leave them, with two dates remaining, covered in a football miracle.
At the moment, Costa Rica is in fifth place with 16 points. Panama, with 17 units, is fourth, the place that awards the right to a playoff against the Oceania champions, which was also decided this week.
El Salvador (9) is still dreaming of reaching the qualifiers, Jamaica (7) and Honduras (3).
Ticos will cling to their great personality, Keylor Navas, the Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper, who has saved his team practically in all the matches he played in the pre-world championships.
Seely was very ineffective in the offensive generation, so Navas had to dedicate himself to traveling from one location to another to protect his goal and give his country a chance. He made this.
Costa Rica’s defense is the second best defense in the World Cup, conceding only seven goals (after Canada, with five), and of the last four matches, they have finished unbeaten in three duels. In this streak, they got 10 out of 12 possible points, with which they returned to the fight.
However, Costa Rica’s problem is that it only scored eight goals, which equates to the third worst record (Honduras has five goals and El Salvador has six).
“I trust my teammates, I trust the coaching staff, I trust the fans and I know that when Costa Ricans are in situations like this, we always go out and do things well,” Navas said.
After this match, Canada will host Jamaica on Sunday and will face Panama next Wednesday in the conclusion of the eight round, while Costa Rica will visit El Salvador and host the United States on the same dates.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas – Ronald Matarita, Francisco Calvo, Kendall Waston, Brian Oviedo – Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges, Alonso Martinez, Brian Ruiz, Joel Campbell, Johan Venegas. DT: Luis Fernando Suarez.
Canada: Milan Burgan – Stephen Vitoria, Richie Laria, Samuel Adekogbe, Kemal Miller – Alistair Johnston, Atiba Hutchinson, Stephen Ostakio – Kyle Larrain, Jonathan David, Tajon Buchanan. DT: John Herdman.
dgj / ma