Road To Russia: Send Them To Belize

Anyone who’s watched Breaking Bad will have thought of the quote in the title of this post when they found out Canada was taking on Belize in this round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. For the quote to truly have worked, Canada would have had to stumble badly in the first leg of the tie in Toronto, but thankfully that didn’t happen. It didn’t prevent me from using it anyway, because I’m just not that clever.

 

On Tuesday night, Canada will take on Belize in the second leg of their home and home series, the winner of which will advance to the next round of qualifying for Russia 2018. Considering the ease with which Canada prevailed in a 3-0 win on Friday in Toronto, it would take a meltdown of San Pedro Sula proportions to prevent Les Rouges from acceding to the group stage against Mexico, Honduras and probably El Salvador (Los Cuscatlecos won 1-0 on the road in Curaçao on Friday).

 

Expect a similar lineup for Canada in this return leg, as Benito Floro has indicated that he will try and keep many of the same players in his starting XI for the home and away matches. Should Canada jump to an early lead in Belmopan, we may see some young Canadians get a chance to feature later in the match.

 

 

TILBURG, NETHERLANDS - JUNE 12: Will Johnson of Canada in action during the FIFA World Youth Championship match between Syria and Canada held at the Willem II Stadium on June 12, 2005 in Tilburg, Netherlands. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Will Johnson
TILBURG, NETHERLANDS – JUNE 12: Will Johnson of Canada in action during the FIFA World Youth Championship match between Syria and Canada held at the Willem II Stadium on June 12, 2005 in Tilburg, Netherlands. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Will Johnson

The opportunity to play in such an important match would not be lost on players such as Vancouver Whitecaps defender Sam Adekugbe, Montreal Impact keeper Maxime Crépeau, Greenock Morton FC centre back Luca Gasparotto (on loan from Rangers FC), Diósgyőr-Vasgyári midfielder Manjrekar James and Queen’s Park Rangers winger Michael Petrasso. All of these players, minus James, would receive their first cap for Canada should they make it onto FFP Field in Belmopan.

 

As always, Canada’s players will have to be mindful of CONCACAF officiating in this match. Other than an utter capitulation to Belize, the worst that could happen would be for Canada’s key players to pick up unwanted cards. All hands will need to be on deck for the next round of qualifying against opposition several levels above Belize. One needs only to look at the shaky yellow card issued to Tosaint Ricketts in the first leg to realize that cards yearn to be drawn from CONCACAF referees’ pockets.
Canadians with a subscription to Euroworld Sport will be able to watch the match live Tuesday night starting at 9pm EST. Canada Soccer, as usual, will attempt to have a live stream going from the stadium in Belmopan, but confirmation of this possibility will only made a few hours before kickoff. If all else fails, we can all tune in to Belize City Channel Five’s stream as we did at the beginning of the match on Friday night.

 

Belize didn’t show much ability in troubling Canada in the first leg of this tie. Unless that was part of some grand rope-a-dope scheme by national team coach Jorge Nunez, expect Canada to cruise to victory once more. One things for sure, we’re not sending our national team to Belize to disappear, despite Saul Goodman’s worst intentions.

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Theo Gauthier

Theo Gauthier

Théo Gauthier was born in Kapuskasing, Ontario, which has zero footballing heritage. It is only upon moving to Ottawa that he was able to plug into the global energy generated by the Beautiful Game.

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