October 5, 2022

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“Let’s get back to business”: Canada set on clinching World Cup berth after “gut-punch” loss

“[Costa Rica] was like the gut punch we needed to get back down to earth,” said Canada coach John Herdman. “Get your feet on the ground, let’s get this done. Let’s just get back to business. We can talk about little improvements and wanting to play a style of football but at the end of the day, a group of men have got to put Canada into a World Cup and they are going to have to work for it, and hard, [on Sunday] against Jamaica in really tough conditions.

“I think it’s going to be good for us [to play at home],” said midfielder Stephen Eustaquio. “The whole country is playing tomorrow; not only us and there is no Panama game [on Wednesday], this is our last opportunity, this is what we are thinking of. 

The anticipation is building. The dream is within reach. Now it’s just a matter of locking in mentally and getting the job done.

It promises to be a special night in Toronto, but despite Canada being the favorite, there are some intriguing lineup questions entering the game.

Sam Adekugbe and Doneil Henry return from suspension which should bolster the back line, especially if center back Steven Vitoria doesn’t pass a late fitness test. Henry is the usual Vitoria replacement while Adekugbe has been a revelation at left fullback since the November window.

However, Mark-Anthony Kaye’s suspension coupled with Atiba Hutchinson logging 90 minutes on Thursday leaves potentially two open spots in the midfield. If Herdman opts for a 4-4-2 with a double pivot, then Jonathan Osorio and Stephen Eustaquio might be the go-to options. 

Since Jamaica is likely to start with three central midfielders, it would behoove Canada to utilize a trio of its own. That could present an opportunity to 19-year-old Ismael Kone to start alongside Osorio and Eustaquio.