It will be top to bottom when Canada face Honduras in hostile territory in the World Cup qualifiers on Thursday night, but the national men’s team knows better than to let the current standings go to its head.

Canada arrived in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, first among the eight CONCACAF teams battling for three automatic berths after Qatar 2022. The Canadian has 16 points through eight qualifying matches, the Honduras have three. And while the undefeated Canadian team has incited its country, Honduras is trying to regain some of the faith from its fan base.

Canadian coach John Herdman does not take lightly the challenge posed by Honduras.

There will be an emotional and spiritual battle over Thursday night’s proceedings. Honduras is desperate to keep its World Cup dream alive. Canada is aware of the humiliation faced by previous reruns of the national team on Honduran turf, namely an 8-1 defeat in October 2012, on an evening when all visitors needed was to avoid losing to to keep their World Cup hopes intact.

The realities of playing on the road in CONCACAF – the heat, the hostile crowds, poor field conditions, the officials – can all come into play on Thursday. “The fight, the fight, it’s going to be at least the first 20 minutes in front and in the middle,” Herdman said.

But getting a result on the mindset alone would be an inconvenience for a Honduran team that Herdman knows he was sometimes unhappy with in this qualifying round. The Hondurans may have beaten more than their weight by tying Canada 1-1 at BMO Field in September, but they left the Canadians with wasted opportunities at the time and could be another team at home.

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“They have the third highest (expected goals) behind Canada and Mexico at home, which lets you know that they create quality chances in their matches … They have averaged 17 shots at home, and they have played good teams at home,” said Herdman. “And they have the best statistics in transition in the whole of CONCACAF.”

One or two passes from Honduras and Canada’s backline could be quickly threatened. And if the Honduran battle force, including Bordeaux’s Alberth Elis, Cadiz’s Anthony Lozano and CF Montreal’s Romell Quioto, is at stake, that threat could easily be punished.

Destroying it should be Canada’s first priority, as opportunities to cause their own problems will open up as the game progresses. The last four goals conceded by Honduras came after the 77th minute. In those games, Honduras was on the verge of a victory, then a draw, before those late crashes.

“It’s to believe that we can score points and know that you may not win the game in the first 10 minutes, it may be the last 10 minutes, but you have to stay in the fight, and believe that we can at any moment this match can win, ”said Herdman.

Despite all the respect Canada shows to the Hondurans, he goes in on Thursday in search of all three points.

“You are only one game away from being a disaster and suddenly you are third, or even fourth, in the group,” said Herdman.

A loss would not be close to the disaster that Canada experienced in 2012. If a few places fall on the points ladder, Canada will, at the very least, still be in a position to score one last play-off round for a World Cup place. It just shows how far this team has come that such a fallout can be considered disastrous.

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But Canada prefers the view from above, so it will not miss the team at the bottom.


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