How quickly it can all change.
In the span of four days, the outlook for Canada’s national team reaching Brazil 2014 has gone from a euphoric high to widespread pessimism.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss in Panama City has left a sour taste in the mouth of Canadian supporters, due to the lacklustre display the squad put on for 90 minutes. Chances were few, energy was low, and the desire for an away win was invisible.
In a dramatic turn of events from last Friday, Canada now find themselves third in Group C and out of the driver’s seat.
“The group changed a little bit tonight,” admitted centre back and team captain Kevin McKenna following the match. “We will now need plenty of home support for a massive match in Canada.”
Changed a little bit might be an understatement with Canada, Panama, and Honduras all moving around in the standings following Tuesday night’s action in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
While Canada dropped from first to third, Panama and Honduras both moved up a spot to first and second in Group C, respectively. Cuba remains last in the group still searching for their first point.
Two fixtures remain for each team. And therefore, six points remain available for Canada to grab in the third round.
The first of those fixtures will come on Fri., Oct. 12 against Cuba. Considering the visitors have zero points and have failed to score in all four of their qualifiers, obtaining three points at BMO Field seems highly likely.
However, three points against Cuba will almost certainly not be enough. Canada’s campaign will come down to an all-or-nothing fixture against Honduras four days later on Oct. 16 in San Pedro Sula.
Getting a result against familiar foes Honduras will prove to be a massive task. And just how good a result Canada needs will depend on the Catrachos’ match against Panama four days earlier.
Panama already defeated Honduras 2-0 away from home, so it’s foreseeable that the Panamanian squad will either win or draw the match in Panama City.
This result, combined with a Canadian win against Cuba, would mean that Canada only need a draw in Honduras to advance to the final round of qualifying in CONCACAF.
But if yesterday’s match was any indication of how Canada performs in Central America, it’s difficult to imagine the squad getting a point.
When the two teams met at the same point in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Honduras won 3-1 at home, a result that was the final nail in the coffin for the Canadian squad.
With Canada still in contention, things are different this time around. But head coach Stephen Hart is well-aware that his squad need to pick up points in Central America if they hope to reach the final round of qualifying.
“You have to be able to come down and get points on the road,” said Hart after yesterday’s loss.
And to do against Honduras next month, there can be no repeats of last night’s performance.