8 veterans likely to play final World Cup match in Qatar

Canada lost to No. 2 Belgium in their first game of the World Cup in Qatar

Canada coach John Herdman had question marks with goalkeeper Milan Borjan and midfielder Stefan Eustaquio joining World Cup debutant Alphonso Davies against No. 2 Belgium on Saturday.

Davies arrived in Qatar on Friday evening after recovering from a hamstring strain suffered in Bayern Munich’s November 6 Bundesliga game at Hertha Berlin. While Byrne said Davies’ participation in Qatar was “not in jeopardy”, he has not played since.

“My job is to make sure he plays in this World Cup, it’s a childhood dream for him,” Herdmann said. “And don’t put her in a situation where she’s uncomfortable.”

“But I have to say Belgium’s another level, we haven’t faced a team of this level… since we played against Brazil (3-2 loss in 2008). So you have players like Alfonso. You need, if it’s a start, (to come) off the bench,” he added. “So we’re doing everything we can.”

Herdman said Eustace, perhaps Canada’s most influential midfielder, is “day-to-day” dealing with a muscle soreness that occurred during training earlier this week.

“That’s another account. That’s an algorithm we’re trying to process right now. Does he hit his markers?” Herdman said. “It’s really the math – what he can endure now in these next three training days to show he’s ready to start.

“If there is no starting place, I am sure he will come from the bench. But there is no guarantee that Stefan Eustaquio will start against Belgium at this stage.

Borjan, meanwhile, felt “something in his stomach” during Thursday’s 2-1 win over No. 24 Japan in Dubai, Herdmann said.

“Just a precaution,” Herdman said.

“(We’re) preparing in case. Another guy,” he added with a nervous laugh. “We went through the (World Cup) qualifying campaign and it was like that. We never seemed to feel like we could get what people on paper would say is your best Canadian team. Par for the course at the minute. We’ll see.”

Eustaquio is Canada’s creative force in midfield and has recently been in rich form with FC Porto in Portugal.

Borjan is Canada’s No. 1 keeper and team captain with 68 caps for 41st-ranked Canada. In the absence of the injured Maxime Crepieu, his back-up is talented but short on international experience in Dean St Clair (two caps) and the idle James Pantemis.

Canadian Soccer had no questionable players available on Saturday.

Herdman must weigh the risk-reward factor with three. Is it worth the risk against Belgium, Canada’s top-ranked foe in Group F on Wednesday, when another blow puts them against No. 12 Croatia on Nov. 27 and No. 22 Morocco on Dec. 1 out of the next game?

Herdman said while Davis has been involved in some contact work in training, “he’s still working toward hitting his top speed.”

“He hasn’t done that much speed yet and that’s always the most important thing when you have hamstring injuries. That’s when the hamstrings are pushed to their limits.

Herdman noted that his team showed it could win without Davis in the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying (Canada went 8-2-4 in the eight-nation round robin). The Bayern Munich star missed seven of those games due to illness as Canada went 5-2-0 in his absence, with one loss coming when Canada had already qualified. .

“So it’s not something I lose sleep over,” Herdman said. “I just believe there’s a group of guys that come together in ways that they have to do whatever it takes.”

But later in the news conference, he admitted with a smile: “Yeah, I still wake up with cold mouths and I’m surprised again and again.”

All eyes were on Davis as the 22-year-old from Edmonton walked into the Canadian training facility, located at a sports club about 25 minutes north of Doha. Davis showed off some ball skills in the sweltering heat as he waited for the official start of training, which came after the media had cleared out.

His teammates nicely welcomed him back at the end of the warm-up portion of the practice, and he made for a friendly quick run if strong taps/slaps. Herdman did his part, knocking the ball out of Davies’ hand to help him down the man tunnel.

It was 29 degrees Celsius, feels like 32 degrees for an afternoon session. A slight breeze was welcome.

The players came out onto some green fields, a horticultural miracle in the desert. Some climbed onto exercise bikes under the canopy. Others sought cover in a small field house next to the pitch before coming back to swing a ball around.

The music with warmth – a Jamaican dancehall theme accompanied by a playlist that included “Bounty Killer” by Warlord and “Gudas Gal” by Chime – was silenced as the afternoon prayer time sounded more haunting. presented

The players stopped the ball game and went to the nearby field, taking a break out of respect.

When the heat resumed, defender Donnell Henry ran away with the trainer. Henry, who has won 44 caps for Canada, was injured before the 2-2 draw with No. 85 Bahrain on Nov. 11 and was not on the World Cup roster. He is in a non-playing role with the team.

Saturday was the Canadians’ fourth practice session in Doha and the first since their win over Japan.

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