Canada players (pictured) convene for photo prior to a World Cup qualifier against host Honduras on September 2, 2016, in San Pedro Sula. (Photo: FIFA.com)
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- The minutes leading up to and immediately following halftime proved to be Canada’s undoing in a 2-1 loss to Honduras on Friday in fourth-round CONCACAF qualifier for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Goals from Mario Martinez late in the first half and Romell Quioto early in the second pushed the host past the Canadians, who had taken the lead through Manjrekar James.
The result gave second-place Honduras a three-point lead over Canada in Group B with a game to play. On Tuesday, if the Hondurans avoid defeat at first-place Mexico, they seal a spot in the Hexagonal. Obviously, Canada has a more difficult task to progress, needing to beat already-eliminated El Salvador and hoping a series of other items fall in its favor.
“We had a good game plan and for the first 15 to 20 minutes we stuck to it,” said Canada midfielder Atiba Hutchinson in reference to the Honduras setback. “We really didn’t give up too much in the beginning and we got our chance and we took our chance and got our goal, but as the game went on, we lost our shape.”
Canada looked to employ a tactic of staying organized and taking up space to fluster Honduras’ attacking players, while slowing the pace in hot conditions.
It capitalized on that strategy as James put Canada in front in the 35th minute. The game took a noticeable turn quickly turned when Martinez scored on the stroke of halftime.
“If we go in one-nil up it’s a different game,” Canada midfielder David Edgar said. “I thought everyone gave it their all today. We just fell short. Still all to play for now.”
Until their chances are completely over, Canada wants to fight until the final whistle at BC Place in Vancouver.
“You don’t stop believing until the mathematics tell you have to,” finished Edgar. “We’ve just got to keep believing and it’s night and day from last time.”
The “last time” to which Edgar referred happened four years ago when Canada needed a tie at Honduras in the final game of the qualifying round, but fell 8-1, also in San Pedro Sula. The margin of defeat may have narrowed this time around, but Canada is fighting to make sure that final outcome is ultimately different.