FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Qualifiers
Final Score: Canada 4-0 Jamaica
Goalscorers: Larin 13′, Buchanan 44′, Hoilett 83′, Mariappa (OG) 89′
Match in a minute or less
The Canadian men’s national team are World Cup-bound, as they defeated Jamaica 4-0 at BMO Field on Sunday afternoon to officially clinch their place at Qatar 2022.
The party began early and continued throughout the 90, as Cyle Larin put the hosts on the board in just the 13th minute. Tajon Buchanan made it 2-0 a few moments before halftime, and Junior Hoilett made it 3-0 with a good chip in the 83rd minute. Jamaican defender Adrian Mariappa put one last goal in his side’s net on the brink of fulltime, but the result was almost never in doubt. This was Canada’s moment, and they seized it.
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Canada dominate on a day that was always going to be theirs
If there were nerves among the fans at BMO Field, there certainly weren’t any on the pitch. Canada demonstrated from the very first kick of the ball that they meant business. Their 61% possession in the first half at times felt like more, as the side in red patiently held onto the ball and worked to develop attacks.
The build-up play was as crisp as it has been this entire campaign from Canada, the fullbacks interchanging with wingers very smoothly. Although Canada’s finishing wasn’t quite as clinical as it could’ve been — certainly, they missed out on a few goals in the first half — the fluidity with which they delivered the ball to the attacking third was something to behold.
Ultimately, this was always to be Canada’s day. Something about the occasion felt right; from the atmosphere outside the stadium, to the jubilant national anthem, to the explosion of energy that came with each goal, Sunday was a true party that, frankly, might not have had the same gravitas had the team qualified officially in Costa Rica on Thursday.
From an atmospheric level, it seemed right that the crowd was so deeply invested in the match itself, needing to see their team dominate one more time to make it official.
Tenacity, aggression without ball helps establish possession
Though most of the laurels will go the things Canada did with the ball, their play without it was just as important to this result.
Canada didn’t exactly play with a Bielsa-esque high press — they had far too much possession to need to do that — but they were very aggressive without the ball, to a man. Any time the ball ended up in Jamaican control, the Canadian forward and central midfielders stepped forward quickly to force opponents into rushed passes that were easy to intercept.
Jonathan Osorio and Stephen Eustáquio deserve a lot of credit for their tenacity off the ball; they seemed to alternate between advanced and deeper roles to optimize their energy and vigour in hunting for the ball.
Although Canada could have been susceptible to quick counter-attacks from the Jamaicans, it seemed that every time they looked likely to strike in transition there was a red shirt placed in a good spot somewhere to break up the play and recover possession.
For a team that dominates possession so comprehensively to finish the match with as many tackles (11) as the opposition is an indication of just how much aggressive work Canada did without the ball.
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David thrives in deep-lying role
This World Cup qualification cycle has seen John Herdman pull plenty of new tricks out of his bag, but he pulled out one of the most fascinating in this match. Though we’ve seen glimpses before of Jonathan David in a deep-lying role, we’ve never quite seen it as pronounced as it was on Sunday against Jamaica.
With Cyle Larin up top, and Junior Hoilett and Tajon Buchanan on the attacking wings, the Lille man essentially spent much of the game operating as a number 10, just ahead of Stephen Eustáquio and Jonathan Osorio — who seemed to take turns dropping between the centre-backs.
David has always been an underrated talent in the build-up play (and his role at Lille doesn’t often call for it), but he truly shined on Sunday. The 22-year-old seemed to cover acres of ground in the middle and attacking thirds, especially out of possession; he was key to Canada winning back possession so frequently with his defensive workrate to close down opponents before they could develop dangerous transitional chances for Jamaica.
Another positive byproduct of David’s deep role was that it gave him more opportunities to take on defenders one-on-one and allow Larin to make runs into attacking channels. At least a few times in the first half, David was able to beat multiple opponents on the dribble, whether coming from the middle or a wide area.
Larin exited the game around the hour mark, and after that David returned to a more traditional striker’s role in a 4-4-2 alongside Lucas Cavallini, but his effort in pressing centre-backs to regain possession did not change and he still floated into the deeper pocket when needed.
CanPL.ca Player of the Match
Sam Adekugbe, Canada
Not for the first time, the left-back was outstanding in this match on both sides of the ball. He went the full 90 minutes and was absolutely crucial to the build-up play, especially in the first half; Adekugbe’s link-up play with Jonathan David was the initial catalyst for the first goal.
The final match of Canada’s World Cup Qualifying campaign will go down this Wednesday, March 30, when they visit Panama.
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