Action from the World Cup qualifier between visiting Canada (red jersey) and Honduras on September 2, 2016, in San Pedro Sula. (Photo: FIFA via Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, Canada – While attempting to beat El Salvador on Tuesday at BC Place, Canada will also be rooting for Mexico to upend Honduras.
With one game left to play in the fourth round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Canada trails the second-place Hondurans by three points in Group A.
In order for the Canadians to advance, three things must happen: a) Canada defeats El Salvador; b) Honduras loses to Mexico; and c) final results from both matches must fall enough in Canada’s favor so that it can finish second on the goal-difference tiebreaker, which it is currently behind, 0 to -5.
“We just have to go and push for it. We’re in a position where we don’t have much to lose,” said midfielder Atiba Hutchinson. “We just have to have our heads right and be composed and come off the bat flying. We need to have a very good start and be very balanced. It’s going to be important for us to go out and start the game.”
With only two goals in five group games thus far, Canada will need to find an offensive spark the likes of which it hasn’t produced since a 3-0 win over Belize on September 4, 2015.
Although the instinct may be to throw caution to the wind and commit numbers forward, it will be just as important to keep El Salvador off the scoreboard.
“We have to approach the game in the right way. We also have to make sure we’re balanced,” Hutchinson continued. “If we get an early goal, anything can happen from there.”
With each game concluding at the same time, there will undoubtedly be fans in the stands tracking any developments at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The players are trusting that Mexico wants to conclude the group in style with a fine performance at home.
“Mexico’s a really good team and I have confidence that they can do it,” said Canada forward Cyle Larin. “They’re a strong squad and they’re playing at home and I think they’ll get the result for us and I think we can get a result here.”
Canada last reached the final round of World Cup Qualifying during the 1998 cycle.