Canada beat hosts Qatar 2-0 in the men’s friendly

VIENNA – Early goals from Cyle Larin and Jonathan David helped Canada to a comfortable 2-0 victory over World Cup hosts Qatar in a men’s international soccer friendly on Friday.

Canada controlled much of the game and extended their 2-0 lead after just 13 minutes in a largely empty Generali Arena, home of Austria Wien. Qatar, five places behind Canada in 48th place in the world rankings, failed to impress that day.

The Canadians, who are playing Qatar for the first time, will face a tougher test on Tuesday when they take on No.13 Uruguay in Bratislava, Slovakia.

There was a moment of concern in the second half when Alphonso Davies required treatment after he tangled with Ismail Mohammad in the 57th minute. The Bayern Munich star was able to run away, albeit cautiously, as he made way for a substitute.

“I think he’s alright. He sat smiling on the bench. So I think he’s fine,” Canada coach John Herdman said after the game.

Canada wasted little time as Larin scored in the fourth minute. The Club Brugge forward rose and headed in a Sam Adekugbe cross delivered from just outside the Qatar box to equal his Canadian men’s record of 25 goals in 53 appearances.

David doubled the lead in the 13th minute after Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb boxed away a Miller cross, but only against two waiting Canadians. Davies went down, lost his footing and tried to get the ball, but David was there to blast it home for his 22nd goal in 33 Canadian colors games.

David, who is signed with Adidas, covered the Nike logo on the Canada shirt with his right hand as he celebrated the goal. Recently, there was talk on social media that Canada, unlike other teams, will not reveal a new kit for the World Cup.

Canada almost scored the third goal with a free-kick in the 88th minute, but Ike Ugbo’s header was saved by the Qatar keeper and Kamal Miller’s rebound hit the bar.

David (Junior) Hoilett, capped for his 48th cap, captained Canada in the absence of the injured Atiba Hutchinson.

Canada Men’s Soccer Team head coach John Herdman watches a training session for a CONCACAF Nations League game against Curacao in Vancouver on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Canada meet World Cup hosts Qatar in Vienna on Friday in the first of two friendlies during FIFA’s September international window.

  • Qatar's Alrawi, left, tries to stop Canada's Liam Millar during the international friendly match between Qatar and Canada on Friday September 23, 2022 at the Viola Park Stadium in Vienna, Austria.  Early goals from Cyle Larin and Jonathan David helped Canada to a comfortable 2-0 win over World Cup hosts Qatar in Friday's friendly.

Friday’s game was the Canadian men’s first game against an Asian opponent since November 2016, when they lost 2-0 to South Korea. Herdman expected a well-trained opponent, with the majority of Qatari players drawn from local teams, with Al Sadd and Al-Duhail leading the way.

The World Cup hosts play from Group A at the World Cup alongside eighth-placed Netherlands, no.18 Senegal (the reigning Africa Cup of Nations champions) and no.44 Ecuador.

The Canadians, who play Group F in the World Cup opener against No. 2 Belgium on 23 November, used their flanks to attack Qatar’s tightened defence.

After an early demise, Qatar had a 10th-minute chance after a Canadian giveaway at their own end. But Mohammed Waad’s shot went straight for Milan Borjan.

Abdelaziz Hatim came close in the 36th minute when his shot from the edge of the box went just wide of the post, causing Borjan to yell at his defenders to step up.

Canada had 62 percent possession in the first half. Both sides made changes at the break and Canada sent Richie Laryea to replace Larin. Charles-Andreas Bryn, Ismael Kone and Ugbo followed after the hour in a triple change from the Canadian bench.

Qatar showed more determination in the second half but failed to break through the Canadian defense and offered little in attack.

Laryea got closer in the 63rd minute but his close-range shot was blocked, as was Ugbo’s shot from the rebound. Liam Millar, who returned to the national team after falling out with a broken arm, came on in the 67th minute.

Mark-Anthony Kaye came on in 74th position as Herdman made liberal use of his bench in light of the heavy club burden some of his players have endured.

For the Canadians, the European camp is the first meeting since an ill-fated meeting in Vancouver in June when players refused to play a friendly against Panama over a contract dispute. The team broke the deadlock to face Curacao and Honduras in CONCACAF Nations League games on June 9 and 13. However, the contract negotiations continue.

Canada’s last World Cup warm-up is on November 17 in Dubai against No. 24 Japan.

Herdman has other injury worries as Club Brugge winger Tajon Buchanan is only likely to come on the bench for the Uruguay game if he is healthy. Toronto FC defender Doneil Henry, who picked up a hamstring problem on the eve of camp, is with the team but is unlikely to play. TFC teammate Jonathan Osorio stayed home to deal with “neurological dysfunction” stemming from an elbow in the head in an MLS game in mid-July.

Despite the injuries, Herdman fielded a strong line-up with Miller, Steven Vitoria and Alistair Johnston ahead of Borjan with Adekugbe and Hoilett at full-backs and Samuel Piette and Stephen Eustaquio in midfield, while Davies, David and Larin led the attack.

Piette was influential in midfield, often joining Eustaquio in smothering Qatar attacks.

Canada’s starting XI went into the game with a total of 428 caps, led by Borjan (65) and Piette (62).

On the bench were Joel Waterman (CF Montreal), who has not yet been capped, and Luca Koleosho (Spain’s Espanyol). 18-year-old Koleosho has yet to pledge his international allegiance to Canada. Coming to a Nigerian father and an Italian-Canadian mother (born in Montreal), he has options.

Qatar is coached by Felix Sanchez, a 46-year-old Spaniard who was Barcelona youth coach before moving to Qatar in 2006 to join the Aspire Sports Academy. He moved to coach Qatar youth teams and took charge of the senior team in 2017.

Never ranked higher than No. 42, Qatar missed out on World Cup qualifiers in 2018, finishing bottom of their six-team third-round qualifying group 2-7-1.

But Sanchez led Qatar to victory at the 2019 Asian Cup, winning seven straight games and beating their opponents 19-1. The Qataris defeated Iraq, South Korea and hosts United Arab Emirates in the knockout stages before beating Japan 3-1 in the final.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 23, 2022

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