Canada is ready for the World Cup stage after a dramatic win over Japan

Canada is ready for the World Cup stage after a dramatic win over Japan

It may not be Japan’s full-strength team, but a win is a win for Canada’s men’s national team, especially a win of this magnitude.

Considering what happened against Uruguay in September, there are plenty of positives to take from Thursday’s 2-1 friendly win over Japan in Dubai.

However, there are still a few concerns that could hurt Canada if they are not addressed immediately.

With the team’s World Cup opener against Belgium just six days away, here’s what we learned about Canada in their latest tune-up game.

The defense of the transmission is fixed

One of the key takeaways from the 2-0 loss to Uruguay in September was Canada’s poor transition defense. The dual force of Samuel Payet and Stefan Eustaquio was not quick or organized enough to manage to create a Uruguayan rival in the middle, and this exposed the Canadian defence.

Atiba Hutchinson was also unavailable, which meant Canada lacked a built-in orchestrator to help build from the back against Uruguay’s high press. Steven Vittoria was often the player who was tasked with this responsibility and was tired all the time.

Even this seemingly direct pass from Vitoria left Alastair Johnston with a spot of bother.

Fortunately, Hutchinson returned to Canada’s camp and started against Japan despite only playing 70 minutes for Besiktas all season due to injury. That only start came last week in a Turkish Cup match against third-tier side Serik Beldiaspor.

Despite the long lead, Hutchinson filled an immediate need. He completed 38 of his 41 passes, setting up space for Vitoria and helping the team play through pressure on several occasions.

Additionally, dropping into the back line at Hutchinson’s possession enabled Johnston to reprise his role as an attacking wing-back with CF Montreal, so he doesn’t have to worry about a quick follow-up.

Canada also chose its locations. If a short option was not available or considered risky when Japan committed to deliver, Les Rouges opted for the long ball.

Winning the second ball will be crucial for this strategy to work, otherwise the defense will be under pressure more often in the World Cup.

But Canada stayed off the ball in a 4-4-2 formation, or a 5-3-2, depending on how far Japan progressed into the final third. There was much less room to play than in the Uruguay friendly.

“All I was interested in was the performance,” Canadian coach John Herdman said after the game. “I need to see that this group of men can bring that recognition to a team like Japan, which is technically one of the top 20 in the world, that’s where they sit. And we have some important We lose players.

Eustaquio was relieved as a precaution

Japan chose to rest seven potential World Cup starters in this game, so it wasn’t the best lineup. However, the tactics are relevant for the Japanese. They play quickly and fluidly while pressing aggressively from the front. Canada competing, and winning, is a positive sign looking forward to the World Cup.

HOILETT to start vs. Belgium?

That was likely to happen anyway, but junior Hallett left no doubt that he should start against Belgium.

Earning his 50th cap for the national team, Hallett made four key passes and set up a corner delivery for Vitoria’s equaliser.

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But it was more than Hewlett’s select pieces that caught the eye. His uncanny ability to move through tight spaces under pressure, and advance the ball is crucial in matches of this magnitude. The more players Canada has that are comfortable on the big stage, the faster the game can go to 100, the better.

To further strengthen his case, Hallett was defensively enthusiastic. He completed three tackles and had some excellent recoveries from Japanese defenders to create dangerous counter attacks for Canada.

Coaches like forwards who are busy defensively, so it will only help the 32-year-old’s case starting next Wednesday.


If we go back and analyze Vitoria’s goal, there was a noticeable trend in seeing Canadian attacking set pieces.

The series continued with Kamal Miller at the near post, drawing three Japanese defenders with him.

With Miller removing those three defenders, that left a gap. Cyle Lauren then ran around Tajon Buchanan (No. 11) and drove into an empty spot by Miller.

Laurens missed an early header once awarded to Hewlett, but with the Canadian forward caught by defenders, Hutchinson was free to shoot, which was eventually bundled in by Vitoria.

Those near-miss decoy runs were constantly used by Canada, and Japan couldn’t contain them. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was uncomfortable dealing with a whipped cross into the box.

Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Cortois, a six-foot-six human octopus, likely won’t have the same issue. But if Howlett can provide a cross aimed just outside the Courtois six-yard box, it could work effectively.

Air defects remain

For all the good that Canada has to offer in the air, the poor air quality in the rear continued on Thursday.

Miller got through a loose ball over the top from Yuki Soma for the opening goal, and it was often a difficult area for the CF Montreal defender.

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This for Johnston. As impressive as he has played for Canada, aerial duels are also not his strong suit. Mexico tried to take advantage of this during CONCACAF World Cup qualifying last October.

Mexico’s goal in the same match was as impressive as Japan’s.

Expect a similar approach from Belgium, Croatia and Morocco unless Vitoria is around to ensure there is no easy target.

Buchan Johnston rejoined

Fortunately for Johnston, his best qualities were on display against Japan. Thanks to Hutchinson’s return, the 24-year-old played largely in the wing-back role and managed some excellent passes.

Many of these balls landed at Buchanan’s feet. The pair were impressive in June’s win over Curacao, although there was an asterisk due to the quality of the opposition.

Nothing like that on Thursday though. Sure, Buchanan couldn’t produce that last ball but his pace clearly troubled the Japanese defense and kept them on their toes. Johnston’s outlet passes are also a reliable weapon if Canada needs to break the opposition’s lines.

With Alphonso Davies potentially gaining attention on the right, the right-back could flourish without too much attention at the World Cup.

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