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VIENNA, Austria — The Canadian men’s national soccer team will see where they stand against 2022 FIFA World Cup opponents with a pair of international exhibition games in Europe.
Canada play the 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar on Friday (11 p.m. ET) at the Generali Arena in Vienna.
As hosts, Qatar had four years to prepare for the World Cup with an automatic berth, while Canada had to go through and arduous qualifying process in the Concacaf region.
“Qatar will arguably be the most prepared team at the World Cup given the investment and the time they’ve had together,” said Canadian coach John Herdman. “They’re very disciplined and defensively they’re as organized as I’ve ever seen a team in this World Cup setting.
“So it’ll be a tough match. As I’ve learned we’ll be clunky in that first five or 10 minutes, it’ll take us a while to get our rhythm when we haven’t been together for a while and against a disciplined team like Qatar they can punish us, so we’ll have to be on our toes in those first 15 minutes; that will be an absolute given for this group, we’ll have to show some real focus and concentration.”
This is the last international window before teams have to declare its 26-player roster for the World Cup. Canada used over 30 players during the qualifying process, meaning Herman will have some difficult decision ahead of the tournament.
The game against Qatar and Tuesday against Uruguay in Bratislava, Austria are the last chance to impress for those Canadians dreaming of playing in a World Cup. Once the squad is selected, Canada will play a final exhibition game against Japan in Dubai, UEA on Nov. 17 before opening the World Cup against Belgium on Nov. 27 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. Canada also play Croatia on Nov. 27 in Al Rayyan and conclude Group F play against Morocco in Doha on Dec. 1. The top two teams advance to the second round.
Canada has not participated in a men’s World Cup since it’s only appearance in 1986 in Mexico, where it lost all three games and did not score a goal.
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On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest