Canada coach John Herdman has asked Albertans to come on board next month when Canadian men play a crucial pair of World Cup qualifying matches in Edmonton.
Edmonton will host the World Cup qualifiers in November, welcoming Costa Rica and Mexico
“That is what we are inviting this community to do, to come and be a part of history, because these six points will make the biggest difference,” Herdman said at a news conference Tuesday in the Alberta capital. “And the fans will push us to the limit.”
“It’s about Canadians supporting Canadians in the most important sport on the planet,” he added.
The Canadians, currently ranked 51st in the world, will host No. 44 Costa Rica on November 12 and No. 9 Mexico on November 16, both at Commonwealth Stadium.
Mexico (4-0-2) leads the eight-team CONCACAF round-robin with 14 points, three ahead of the 13th-ranked United States (3-1-2). Canada (2-0-4) is third with 10 points and No. 68 Panama (2-2-2) fourth with eight points. Costa Rica (1-2-3) is fifth with six points.
Alphonso Davies’ soccer skills raise Canada’s World Cup hopes
In March, the top three teams will book their ticket to Qatar 2022, representing North, Central America and the Caribbean. The fourth classified will participate in an intercontinental playoff to see who joins them.
Herdman’s visit to Edmonton to spark interest in the November games was timed to coincide with tickets going on sale Friday.
United 2026 FIFA offer could see more games in Edmonton
While a loud and proud crowd will cheer Canada on, playing in cold conditions on artificial turf is also expected to baffle Costa Ricans and Mexicans. Herdman recalls coaching Canadian women in the October games in Edmonton against South Korea (2013) and Japan (2014).
“Both times, I could barely move my lips aside,” he said. “So I know it’s not easy.”
Herdman also has fond memories of Commonwealth Stadium. In 2015, she experienced a crowd of more than 53,000 roaring at her team when captain Christine Sinclair scored a penalty in the 92nd minute for a 1-0 victory over China in the opening match of the Women’s World Cup.
“It was a red sea that day,” Herdman recalled.
“It’s a passionate football crowd that has come out when we needed it,” she added, also referring to the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship.
Edmonton officially becomes part of 3-nation bid to host FIFA Men’s World Cup
Almost 48,000 people were present at Commonwealth Stadium to witness the 2002 U19 final, won 1-0 by the United States after extra time over a Canadian team that featured Sinclair and goalkeeper Erin McLeod.
After a spectacular season, footballer Alphonso Davies, eager to improve, struggles to lead Canada to the World Cup
The choice of venue also marks a homecoming for Bayern Munich star Alphonso Davies, 20, who delivered a video message at Tuesday’s press conference.
The November games will be Davies’ first as a professional in his hometown.
“I can’t wait to see you all there, I can’t wait to fill that stadium,” said Davies, who scored a memorable goal in Canada’s 4-1 win over Panama on October 12 at BMO Field in Toronto.
“We are excited to show you what we have. And I hope you’re excited to see it. “
Davies should also help drive the gate, proceeds that will be welcomed by the Canadian Soccer Association after seeing its bottom line hit by the pandemic.
With 4.5 million followers on TikTok, 4.1 million on Instagram and 302,400 on Twitter, Davies’s reach is “beyond football,” said Herdman, whose 10-year-old daughter is one of Davies’s followers.
“What this kid has been able to do is just bring a positivity, a hope, a smile to Canada,” he said of Davies.
Interview with Edmonton-raised soccer star Alphonso Davies
Back-to-back games in November are seen as crucial for Canada, which has already tied Honduras and beat El Salvador and Panama at home. Making the most of home games is essential in this qualifying round.
After the two games in Edmonton, Canada will have six games remaining with just two at home.
Canada’s men’s soccer team draws 1-1 with the USA in World Cup qualification
The Canadians will visit Honduras and host the United States in January before playing in El Salvador in February. They will finish qualifying in March with a home game against Jamaica along with visits to Costa Rica and Panama.
Amid the sales pitch, Herdman admitted that “this is the hardest job I’ve ever done in my life.”
“We have eight games left. I have no illusions that we are there. We have more adversity on our way. There will be times when we will have to dig even deeper than we have done before. “
“I’m going to keep smiling,” he added. “Because as I have told the players, we have nothing to lose. Nobody expected us to qualify for a World Cup. I was the madman who said we would do it. “
Canadian soccer legend Christine Sinclair faces her enemies on and off the field
© 2021 The Canadian Press