Canada Soccer’s Men’s National Team is set to play two crucial 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying matches in Edmonton.
Whether you’re a new soccer fan wondering the significance of these matches or you’re going to Commonwealth Stadium and want to get familiar with Canada’s opponents, Costa Rica and Mexico, CTV News Edmonton has you covered.
Canada will face Costa Rica on Friday, Nov. 12, and Mexico on Tuesday, Nov. 16.
Canada is currently in the final stage of CONCACAF qualifiers.
Mexico, United States, Canada, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, El Salvador and Honduras are facing each other twice, home and away, and the top three teams will automatically qualify for the World Cup in Qatar in late 2022.
The fourth-place team will enter a playoff against teams from South America, Asia and Ocenia.
After six of 14 matches, Canada sits third in the standings behind Mexico and the United States, respectively, and two points ahead of Panama.
HOW GOOD ARE MEXICO AND COSTA RICA?
The two Spanish-speaking countries are typically among the very best in CONCACAF, especially Mexico.
Mexico is ninth in the FIFA rankings, while Costa Rica is 45th and Canada is 48th.
Mexico has been to 16 of 21 World Cups, including the last seven where they always reached the Round of 16.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, has qualified to four of the last five World Cup, including the past two.
Canada has only qualified for the 1986 World Cup — in Mexico.
While the United States did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the Americans and Mexicans are usually the favourites to lock the top in the standings, so Costa Rica is likely Canada’s main competitor for the third birth.
WHO WILL BE THE TOP PLAYERS AT COMMONWEALTH?
By now, most Canadians and soccer fans across the world are familiar with Alphonso Davies, the gifted Edmonton-raised player on Bayern Munich.
Friday will be the first time Davies plays a professional match in Edmonton.
Team Canada’s Alphonso Davies takes part in a practice session in Edmonton, Alta., on Wednesday November 10, 2021. Canada takes on Costa Rica in their World Cup match on Friday November 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Other players to watch for Canada include Jonathan David, who plays for the French league’s reigning champions Lille, and Besiktas’ Cyle Larin, the qualifier’s top scorer with nine goals.
Mexico has an impressive roster headlined by Raul Jimenez, a striker for Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Premier League.
Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, midfielder Andres Guardado and striker Hirving Lozano have also played at the highest levels in Europe.
Costa Rica has one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Keylor Navas but he won’t play against Canada on Friday after he picked up an injury with PSG.
Kendall Waston, Bryan Oviedo and Bryan Ruiz have been mainstays in the Costa Rica side in recent years.
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