Canada (pictured) trains on November 11, 2015, at BC Place in Vancouver. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)
VANCOUVER – The result left Canada searching for answers as its qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup ended in stunning fashion at the hands of host Honduras.
Needing only a tie to progress to the final round, the Canadians surrendered four goals in each half en route to an 8-1 loss and fell short by a single point. Rather than celebrating advancement, finding ways to deal with the setback became paramount.
The healing process can continue Friday, when the sides meet again in the fourth-round opener for each in CONCACAF qualifying for Russia 2018.
“It’s still a horrible feeling when you think about it…I think it always will be,” admitted Canada captain Julian de Guzman. “Playing Friday’s game will be one way of helping to get rid of that feeling, but I don’t think it’s a motivating factor for the game. The 8-1 game has nothing to do with Friday’s game. It’s the past.”
On that fateful day – October 16, 2012, to be exact -- it was typically hot and humid in San Pedro Sula. No such conditions will exist Friday at Vancouver’s BC Place. The damp conditions on Canada’s west coast will likely keep the retractable roof closed, especially since more rain is expected to pass through the area.
That said, it was still chilly inside the facility during training, with players from both teams clad in the appropriate attire.
Honduras has struggled to find consistent form in 2015, posting only one win in its last 11 outings. The Catrachos edged French Guiana in a two-legged playoff for a spot in July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, where they went 0W-1D-2L in three group games and failed to secure a place in the knockout rounds for the first time since 2003.
Conversely, Canada is 5W-5D-2L this year and is coming off a 1-1 draw with highly-regarded Ghana. Similar to Honduras, it didn’t progress past the Gold Cup’s group stage.
“It would be amazing if we can get to a good start and get three points out of this game,” said veteran midfielder Atiba Hutchinson, 32, who is in the midst of his fourth World Cup qualifying cycle. “This is the most important game right now. You want to get off to a good start and we’re playing at home. Last time, we lost points at home to Honduras and it was costly.”